Smart Water Meters FAQ

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Below are frequently asked questions about smart water meters at Bellevue. Can't find the answer to your question? Please contact SmartWater@bellevuewa.gov

SMART WATER METER UPGRADE

When will my meter be upgraded to a Smart Water Meter?

The graphic below shows the current Smart Water Meter project schedule. Most large/commercial meters were upgraded in 2020.  Beginning in April 2021 through about mid-2022, residential meters and remaining large meters will be upgraded.

Learn more about the project timeline and what to expect on the project schedule page.

Smart Water Meter Project timeline - current phase is April 2021-August 2022: Begin residential meter installations. Complete remaining large meter installations.

How much will this new system cost customers? How is it being paid for?

The new Smart Water Meter system is expected to enhance operational efficiencies and generate more accurate readings of water use. Over its 20-year lifespan, Bellevue Utilities projects the $23 million investment in the Smart Water Meter upgrade will cost less than the manually-read meter system we have today. Furthermore, the Smart Water Meters project will not result in any additional rate increases.

Will Smart Water Meters cause my water bill to increase?

Smart Meters will ensure that customers are billed for the water they use—no more and no less.

Each new meter is tested and guaranteed to accurately record water consumption. If a customer’s old meter was under-recording, then they might see a bill increase with the new meter. Accurate meters ensure fairness for all customers by correctly measuring water usage. If you are concerned about an increase in your water bill, please contact our customer service department at SmartWater@bellevuewa.gov or 425-452-6973 so we may address your concerns.

Will I still receive a water utility bill in the mail?

Smart Water Meters will change how Bellevue Utilities collects water use information, but will not change how you receive your bill. Your bill will continue to be provided in the format you have chosen - either mailed paper bill or ebill. If you would like to discuss your billing options, please contact us at 425-452-6973 or utilities@bellevuewa.gov.

I rent my home - will I have access to my Smart Water Meter data?

Once the online portal is live, only account holders will have access to water use data. If you currently pay utility costs through a third party – i.e., property manager or landlord – unfortunately, you not be able to access your water use information directly. If you are set up to pay your utility costs directly, your property manager or landlord may be able to provide you access. We will be able to share more about access to water use information when the portal release gets closer.

Are Smart Water Meters safe?

Yes. After extensive research and consultation with leading experts, Bellevue Utilities is confident Smart Water Meters are safe.

The science shows that radio frequency emissions typical of many common household devices, like Smart Water Meters, do not affect health (California Council on Science and Technology, 2011). One study for the state of Vermont found that radio frequency levels for people standing one foot away from a meter are about 1,500 times below the federal exposure limits for radio frequency emissions (Richard Tell Associates, Inc., 2013).

Smart Water Meters communicate information similarly to other common wireless devices such as cordless phones, baby monitors, garage door openers, Wi-Fi routers, and cell phones. However, Smart Water Meters transmit at lower levels than most of these devices, are located further away—typically outside the home, near the street—and transmit less than 20 seconds per day. Overall, Smart Water Meters create much lower radio frequency exposure than many common home appliances and personal electronics that customers use in their homes throughout the day.

Can I opt out of having my meter upgraded to a Smart Water Meter?

All meters will be replaced during the Smart Water Meter project. However, we are currently in the process of evaluating a non-communicating meter program that will offer an option for existing customers who do not want their new water meter to have a radio transmitter. This option will involve some costs to cover the staff time and administration involved in continuing to manually read your meter. We will share more information on this option when a decision has been made. Please email SmartWater@bellevuewa.gov if you would like to learn more about this option.

Where can I learn more about Smart Water Meters?

Bellevue Utilities will communicate with our customers throughout the city-wide installation process. Look to this website, your mailers, and your billing newsletter as sources of information. Questions about the program can be directed to SmartWater@bellevuewa.gov or 425-452-6973.


Project Benefits

Why upgrade?

Right now, water meter readers visit homes and businesses to manually record water usage every two months. With smart meters, water usage will be transmitted wirelessly to the utility company every day. This secured, encrypted data will be accessible to customer service representatives and to customers through an Online Customer Portal. Instead of once every two months, customers will be able to monitor their water use in near-real time as well as to find and fix leaks faster—potentially saving both time and money.

Diagram of how smart water meters work.

Will I be able to see my water usage online?

Your new Smart Water Meter will provide you with nearly real-time data about your water usage, which you can track through a forthcoming Online Customer Portal. Through the portal, you will be able to manage your account, see your water usage patterns, identify potential ways to save water and money, and spot leaks quickly.

How can Smart Water Meters save me money?

The Smart Water Meter program makes it easy to identify a leak and alert the affected customer much more quickly than was possible with manual meter reading. With manual meter reading, leaks could go undetected for weeks or months, leaving customers responsible for paying bills that ranged from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Your new Smart Water Meter will provide you with nearly real-time data about your water usage, and spotting leaks early can save you time and money.

How will Smart Water Meters benefit the environment?

Smart Water Meters will mean fewer meter-reading vehicles on the road, thus reducing Bellevue Utilities’ carbon footprint. Today, meter readers drive more than 50,000 miles annually throughout the service area to record customer data. That represents 50 tons of CO2 emissions.*

*Average odometer reading of Meter Reader Jeep: 42,000 (in service 4 years). Average fuel usage per Meter Reader Jeep years 2014 and 2015: 1,008 gallons per year. Miles per year: 42,000/4 years in service x 5 Jeeps = approximately 50,000 combined annual miles. One gallon of gasoline burned = 19.6 pounds of CO2. Therefore, 1,008 gallons of gas per year x 5 Jeeps = 98,784 pounds or approximately 50 tons of CO2.

How do Smart Water Meters fit in to the City of Bellevue Smart Cities initiative?

Smart Water Meters are the first of many new Smart Cities initiatives, which will implement city-wide technologies that make use of near real-time data and integrate systems to make better use of existing data. Check out the Smart Cities website to learn more.


Data Security and Privacy

Will my water-use information be secure?

Bellevue Utilities takes the privacy of your information seriously.

The Smart Water Meters will not store or transmit your personal identifying information (such as name, address, or account number). Only the meter number, amount of water used, and equipment information will be sent through the wireless network. Similar to many online transactions, the network will have multiple layers of protection. All transmitted information will be secure and protected through encryption within the network.

What will my water consumption data be used for?

Beyond billing and leak detection, Bellevue Utilities will only use water consumption data to plan, maintain, and develop the city water system. As Bellevue grows and changes, the Smart Water Meter program will help us maintain a potable water system that is flexible, reliable, and able to meet our customers’ needs.

How will Bellevue Utilities protect my privacy?

Bellevue Utilities is committed to protecting the personal information of our customers. Personally identifiable information (such as name, address, or account number) is not stored in the Smart Water Meter nor is it sent through the wireless network. Only the meter number, the amount of water used, and information about the proper functioning of the equipment will be sent through the wireless network.

Additionally, installers will not enter your home, obtain your identification information, or have access to your online account and password, if you have one.