The River Forest officials took a major step in a major infrastructure project at the April 12 virtual village board meeting, approving a contract with Siemens Industry Inc. for services related to the planned $1.32 million automatic metering infrastructure (AMI) system.

Under the contract, Siemens will provide consulting services, project management assistance and installation and verification of water meters and multiplexer units (MXU) for the fixed-base AMI system for a fixed cost of $1,028,343. 

The AMI project will entail upgrading water meters throughout the village with state-of-art equipment that will allow the village to obtain meter readings without requiring public works staff members to perform a “drive-by” read, which is the current practice.  

According to John Anderson, public works director, the project will deliver better customer service by providing accurate bills based on actual consumption that can be seen in real time by providing meter reads on a daily basis.

It can also help identify any irregularities in water usage such as leaks being experienced by residents, he added. The project will require upgrading 1,964 of the village’s 3,180 existing water meters to new meters that will have the ability to provide digital readings and new MXUs, which are small battery-powered devices installed close to the meters.

Since the remote reads will be collected by radio signal, the village will need to install one or two central antennae. Anderson previously identified the water tower, the pumping station and village hall as potential locations. River Forest officials will use the village’s existing meter manufacturer, Sensus, for the project, he added.

The contract also calls for Siemens to provide a public relations campaign that will inform residents about the program, providing informational fliers and a toll-free number for them residents to call for any questions they have about the project.

Short videos will be produced providing information and details of the program that will be displayed on the village website. A list of frequently asked questions also will be created and posted on village web sources to inform residents and answer their questions.

Anderson said preliminary work will begin “within the next several weeks” and the entire process will take approximately one year which brings completion to spring/summer of 2022.

Preliminary work includes data collection of the village’s current meter and MXU inventory, identifying the location of the antenna or antennas and reviewing information technology needs. 

Officials also will determine current processes and how they can be improved in the future and determine of the scope and selection process of the AMI wireless network and potential leak-detection providers.

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