FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — If you haven’t already, you’ll receive a letter from Fort Wayne City Utilities sometime over the next year about scheduling an appointment to have your water meter replaced.
The Chief Communications Officer for Fort Wayne City Utilities, Frank Suarez, told WANE 15 the process won’t be completed until sometime in 2023 as they move from zip code to zip code.
Out of roughly 100,000 customers they need to get to, the company contracted to change out the meters, Tribus, has completed around 14,000 so far.
It can be a drawn out process, according to Suarez, because they’re trying to work with people and are allowing them to schedule appointments that work within their schedules.
Below is information from Suarez that explains the new MyWater system:
Why the change?
The current system in place was installed in 2001 and is way past its useful life, according to Suarez. The addition of MyWater allows for customers to better track their water usage and pay bills online.
“It can be very valuable for the customer,” Suarez said.
Now, customers will be able to set up alerts on their account that notifies them when they have something like a running spigot or toilet. This can help them save on their utilities bills.
At the same time, the new meter readers will send the data to City Utilities digitally rather than them having to send someone around to read all the meters.
How they notify you
Suarez said that when they’re ready to move on to your neighborhood, you’ll receive a letter asking you to schedule an appointment.
If you don’t respond to that letter right away, a representative from Tribus will knock on your door and leave a door tag if you don’t answer.
Following that, City Utilities will attempt to reach you by phone at least three times, then they’ll send a post card. If they still haven’t heard from you, they’ll send another post card.
Eventually, after about three and a half months, you’ll receive a final notice notifying you that your water will be disconnected if you don’t reply.
That’s still not the end. You’d receive another letter after that with a potential disconnect date.
“I understand that any of us would be concerned if we got a notice that says we’re going to be disconnected,” Suarez said. “In the first letter, it doesn’t even mention that. We try to get them to just register, but then we have to use some methods to get people’s attention and to get them to respond.”
“We really need people to understand that this is a partnership with the utility. They have to cooperate and help us with this. As a non-profit utility, we always work to keep costs down and this is a change that will help us down the road, but it’s going to help customers, too.”
In total, Suarez said it’s about a four-month process of notifications before a potential shutoff would happen.
Below is a copy of the first letter you’ll receive when it’s time to make your appointment:
How it works
Once your appointment is set, a crew will come to your home and replace your meter inside and the radio reader connected to it that is usually outside. The new meter inside is the exact same size as the current meter already in place.
Suarez said that in many cases the new wire they run can run along the same path as the previous wire did. There are some cases, mostly in newer homes or houses where there are ad-ons or renovations, where a small hole would have to be formed to run a new wire into the home from the outside.
He added that they’re willing to work with the customers on the best way to make the change.
What do I need to do?
Someone 18 or older will need to be present during your scheduled appointment. Other than that, you just need to make sure there is clear access to your water meter. You may have to move some belongings that are piled up around it ahead of the appointment to make sure it can be easily accessed.
Is this a free?
Yes. Having your meters changed out won’t cost you anything. According to Suarez, the only instances where there could be a financial burden on the customer is if they made renovations to the home that block access to the meter.
Suarez said City Utilities will work with those customers to find the best solution, but it would be on the customer to have the changes made that provide access to the meter.
More important information
- Because City Utilities may try to contact you by calling you, Suarez said this is a good time to remind people to update their accounts with an accurate phone number. If you used to have a landline and got rid of it, they need your cell phone number to be able to contact you if needed.
- Suarez also suggests checking in with a professional or City Utilities before ever making changes or additions to your home. They can recommend ways to avoid things like blocked meters inside or issues related to water runoffs related to landscaping outside.
- With the new MyWater system in place, the way you pay your utilities bill does not change.