Can you explain the installation process?
The project includes replacing about 11,000 residential and commercial water meters with new, technologically advanced meters and registers that can communicate usage data via wireless technology directly to H2GO. All meters in H2GO’s utility service area, including domestic water, irrigation and reclaimed water, will be read using the advanced metering system.
During the first phase of the project, crews with a verified, contracted group will physically conduct a visual inspection of a sample of nonresidential meters throughout H2GO’s district to help determine specifications for the new system. Customers experienced no interruptions to their water service during the inspection. Installation of the new meter and communication module should take no more than 30 minutes in most cases, with your water service being unavailable for about 15 minutes of that time. H2GO and our contractors and consultants are committed to minimizing impacts from this important project and will, therefore, prepare and work according to reliable, updated schedules and ensure that interruptions in water service are kept to no more than 15 minutes in most cases. To ensure that the installation is complete, workers will briefly test the new meter.
While most work will occur within public rights-of-way and easements, H2GO will restore to original condition any private property impacted by the installation. Before temporarily interrupting individual water services, crews will make every effort to ensure that doing so will not impose an undo hardship on the customer. Such efforts will include observing the meter to see if water is being used and knocking on doors to contact those who may be inside.
Advanced Metering Technology
Advanced metering technology is an example of H2GO’s commitment to maintaining a high quality of life for our citizens through cost-effective, innovative programs. The innovative system replaces monthly drive-by meter reads with a wireless system that collects multiple remote meter reads per day, allowing for better leak detection, increased billing accuracy, and improved customer service. Advanced metering supports H2GO’s commitment to "preserve and promote the public health of the citizens in the North Brunswick area" in a number of ways, including: reducing carbon emissions by taking meter reading vehicles off of the road; enhancing our ability to quickly detect and stop leaks; and providing customers with daily information on water use so that they can improve their efforts to conserve.
Advanced metering will help keep H2GO workers safe by reducing job-related injuries like shoulder, ankle, wrist and back injuries as well as spider bites and bee stings. The new technology will enhance privacy by removing the need for monthly visits by meter readers. Further, as has always been the case, H2GO will continue protecting the privacy of utility customer information according to all state and federal laws. Advanced metering will enable us to do everything we can do today, just more efficiently and effectively by relying on advanced radio technology. This enhancement will enable our customer service to better serve you and answer your questions regarding water usage and billing.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you explain the installation process?
Do I need to do anything to prepare for installation?
To help keep everyone safe, dogs and any other domestic pets will need to be kept out of yards during installation. Always keep meter box lids unobstructed.
Who is doing the work?
The project will be managed for H2GO by a verified contractor to be determined at a later date, which will ultimately be responsible for the day-to-day execution of the project, including recommending equipment and materials, selecting vendors and contractors, overseeing installation, and insuring the highest level of customer satisfaction. Contractors working on the project will carry proper identification and have successfully completed a background check. Contractors will not need to enter residential property, nor will they be asking for any form of payment from customers.
How does this system work?
The system works via wireless signals sent from a small radio unit inside the meter box that is connected to the water meter. The meter radio unit sends readings to regional collector units that then transmit the meter reading data to receivers in H2GO’s Office. Regional collectors will be located on existing water tanks, radio and cell phone towers located throughout H2GO’s district. Each radio unit will send a 111-millisecond usage report from the meter to H2GO’s office four times a day.
How does this system benefit customers?
Currently, every month, H2GO has to manually drive by nearly 11,000 homes to read meters. The advanced metering system will take vehicles off the road, significantly reducing the district’s carbon footprint. The project includes the addition of a new web-based reporting system that will allow customers to track their daily water use and learn about strategies for saving water and reducing their utility bill. This web-based system will be activated toward the end of the installation project, and citizens will receive detailed information on how to take advantage of its offerings. Thanks to its advanced technology and backup systems in the field, the new system will provide accurate, timely water use data regardless of weather conditions or power outages.
Will this impact the homeowners side of the meter?
No, the homeowners side of the meter will not be impacted by these new meters and their installation.
What happens with the current meters and equipment?
The existing meters being replaced during the project will be recycled or offered to other governments for reuse. As is currently the case, water meters, and radio units will remain the property of the H2GO and H2GO will continue to perform the required maintenance on these units.
Will wireless technology affect my health or privacy?
The new meters will not negatively affect health or privacy. In fact, overall health will be improved and privacy enhanced by replacing vehicles and manual visits to your home with environmentally clean radio communication. The wireless portions of the system will be operated according to Federal Communications Commission rules, and will not interfere with other radio frequencies in the area. The transmitters use one-quarter of the power of a cellphone. The amount of exposure to radio waves decreases with the square of the distance from the source. Exposure to radio waves from smart meters is absolutely tiny compared to cellphones. In addition, transmission time for the units we are installing totals 15 seconds per day.
Can I still access the shut off valve in my meter box?
Your home's shut off valve is not in the meter box and customers should not be using the meter box to turn off your water, only H2GO employees should be accessing the meter box. Your home's shut off valve is typically somewhere around your home's foundation or near the meter box, but it is not in the meter box itself. If you cannot find your shutoff valve, you can call our office at 910-371-9949 and we can have someone come turn the water off for you when needed or if it is after hours you can call our on call number 910-367-1537.
Can I mow or drive over the meter box?
No, you should never mow over your meter box, drive heavy equipment over one, or cover it in anyway. Mowing over your meter box will damage the antennas that transmit your meter readings to regional collector units that then transmit the meter reading data to receivers in H2GO’s Office. Driving over the meter box can cause the box to collapse on itself. Both scenarios can prove to be costly fixes.
Can I cover the meter box?
No, you should never cover your meter box with anything, including, but not limited to, mulch, rocks, grass, plants, or straw. Obstructions interfere with our meter reading system by covering the antennas that transmit the signals to our office. When this happens, crews must manually find and read the meters. In cases of emergency or maintenance repair needs, H2GO crews may need to locate and access the meter boxes. The meter boxes should remain uncovered at all times to ensure a timely response to maintenance and repair needs.
Section 3.3 of H2GO’s Rules and Regulations
“d) It shall be unlawful to plant, place or allow to become established, vegetation, other than low-growing grass, over or within two feet of any water meter box owned by H2GO. It shall also be unlawful to block or cover remote-read metering antennas with any type of landscaping ground cover including soil, grass, mulch, stone, or brick pavers. Metering antennas must remain exposed. H2GO will not be responsible for repair or replacement of any vegetation or ground cover removed to expose metering antennas. It will be H2GO’s standard procedure to remove obstructions that interfere with remote-read metering functions. Violations of this Section shall be subject to a $50 civil penalty after an initial written notice, and a $100 civil penalty for each occurrence thereafter.”