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In March of 2004 City Council approved an automatic meter reading (AMR) and water meter replacement project. This initiative is intended to improve water meter accuracy, eliminate estimated bills, reduce meter reading cost, and allow us to provide immediate and accurate responses to your meter reading and billing questions. The City of Ann Arbor Public Services is pleased to announce that AMR is over 95% complete.  These radio-read equipped water meters enable Customer Service to read your water meter directly from our Customer Service headquarters.

This is how it works. Existing water meters are replaced with a new water meter that has been fitted with an electronic reading transmitter. The new meter transmits your water meter reading twice a day to a computer located in our Customer Service headquarters. Meter readers will no longer enter homes and businesses to obtain readings except to troubleshoot AMR equipment problems. Therefore, a radio-read meter must be installed in all properties.  We are installing the final meters throughout the city at this time.

Appointments are available during the week Monday through Friday, between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. The service work takes about 30 minutes. Appointments are set on a two-hour window. Please make sure that all personal items are removed from around the water meter so that the work can be performed. An adult must be present at your home or business for this work to be performed. You can schedule an appointment by calling the water department Customer Service staff at 734-794-6333.

If you are the owner of rental or commercial property within the City, please advise your tenants or building manager that the city will need access to the property and the water meter.


Q1: What is an AMR Project?

A1 : The AMR Program means Automatic Meter Reading (AMR) and Meter Replacement Program. This city wide project will replace all old meters with new, state of the art meters that will allow the City to obtain meter readings using radio frequency technology. The readings will be sent directly to our customer service headquarters. This means you will always be billed from actual meter readings.

Q2 : Where is my water meter?

A2 : The vast majority of water meters are located inside the building in the basement, usually along the front wall of your property.

Q3 : Why do I need a new meter?

A3 : The average age of Ann Arbor water meters is 15 years old. Consequently, they produce high maintenance costs and are becoming less accurate. Customers that have water meters that are three years old or younger will receive only the electronic transmitter device.

Q4 : How does the new meter reading system work and how do I know you have my reading and not someone else’s?

A4 : The electronic transmitter device installed on your property is programmed to automatically send the meter reading twice a day. The signal is sent to a data collector installed on a building or electric pole serving your area. Daily, the collector sends the meter readings to the host computer located at customer service headquarters. Each meter and transmitter has a unique identification number that ensures that only your reading is assigned to your account. The meter reading information is unloaded into the city’s data system for customer questions and billing.

Q5 : Will my water bill go up?

A5 : Older meters tend to run slower and therefore do not measure all the water going through them. The new water meter will accurately measure the water that you use. All new meters are tested at the factory to ensure that they register properly. If you see a higher bill, it is usually not because your new meter is reading too high; it is because the old meter was running slow.

Q6 : When can I expect my first bill?

A6 : You will continue to receive your bill on the same schedule.

Q7 : How do you know that my reading is accurate?

A7 : These state of the art water meters have electronic digital registers, which verifies the meter reading before it is sent to the transmitting unit. This reading is deemed more accurate than visually reading the meter.

Q8 : How do I know if higher usage may be a result from a leak in my plumbing system?

A8 : A new, more accurate meter may detect small leaks that the older meter missed. Check faucets for small drips. Also check your toilet tank for small leaks in the toilet bowl. Place a few drops of food coloring in your toilet tank. If the water in the bowl changes to the color of dye used in the tank, you have a leak. Seek assistance from your local home improvement center or plumbing professional to fix all such leaks.

As noted, the new AMR system records your usage twice a day. In the near future, there will be sufficient meter reading data to establish a consumption pattern. This will allow for higher usage or leaks to be more easily identified when you talk with our customer service representatives about any billing questions.

Q9 : Do I have to be home for the meter replacement work?

A9 : Since the water meter is located inside, an adult must be present while the meter is being installed. When you receive this or any other notice, you are to contact the City to set up an appointment to change your inside meter.

We ask that prior to the arrival of the meter technician for your appointment that you remove all personal belongings from around the water meter so there is clear access to and around the meter. The meter technician is not allowed to move your personal items and this may delay the installation process.

Q10 : How long will the meter installation take?

A10 : Under normal circumstances, the installation will take about 30 minutes. The water will have to be turned off for about 5 to 10 minutes until the meter is changed. Please be advised that there may be some trapped air or slight discoloration in the water line. This will clear up after running your water for a few moments. You may hear some noise as the air exits spigots and fixtures. This is normal.

Q11 : What will they do while at my house?

A11 : Generally the meter technician will locate your inside water meter, remove the old meter, and install the new meter equipped with the transmitter. The radio transmitter is connected to the water meter by a wire about the size of a phone line. In some cases the technician will be able to use existing wire that is in place for the remote reading device should one be installed on your home. In other cases, new wire must be installed.

The transmitting device will either be installed in the same location as the existing remote reading device or on the wall or floor joist inside the building near the water meter. Wire will be secured to the water pipe and floor joist. If wire is run outside of the building, it will also be secured.

The technician will program the meter and transmitter with the unique numbers for your account. The technician will also run a small amount of water through the meter to test the installation. He will then clean up the work area and inform you that the work is complete. The installer will note on the work order the last reading on the old water meter and the remote register, should you have one. This record will be used to address any billing issues with the old meter.

Q12 : What will be done with the old remote register?

A12 : With the new electronic transmitter installed, the remote reading device will no longer function. Unless this device is removed and replaced by the transmitter, it will be left on the building. You may remove and dispose of the device or leave it in place. The City will be responsible for any damages resulting from the removal of the existing remote device.

Q13 : Is there a hazard from the radio transmitter in my home?

A13 : No, the radio signal is only on for less than a second when it transmits. The reading device meets all FCC requirements and the power level is far below that where any risk occurs.

Q14 : Is there anything hazardous inside the equipment?

A14 : No, only ordinary electronics and batteries are inside the equipment

Q15 : Will the radio interfere with my television, cordless phone or other electronic devices?

A15 : No, the radio transmissions occur on a licensed frequency very different from those used by television signals, cordless phones and other electronic devices. In addition, the transmissions last less than 1 second. You will never see interference with your television reception.

Q16 : Is this system monitoring my phone calls?

A16 : No, this equipment does not monitor phone calls.

Q17 : Is this system monitoring how many people are in my house?

A17 : No, this equipment does not monitor how many people are in the house or any personal activity. It is only capable of collecting the water meter reading and transmitting it to the collector.

Q18 : How will I know if the service technician works for you?

A18 : The meter installation technician will be wearing a Water Department uniform shirt and have a picture ID badge. Their service vehicle will also have identification signs. If you are unsure about the installer’s identity, call the Ann Arbor Customer Service at 794-6333 for confirmation.

Q19 : What if we have a leak after the meter is installed?

A19 : The city will make every effort to dispatch service personnel as quickly as possible to determine the cause of the leak and to take appropriate action. You may call Customer Service at 794-6333 during normal working hours (8:00AM – 5:00 PM Monday thru Friday) or after normal hours 794-6470.

Q20 : Whom should I call if I would like more information about the AMR Program itself?

A20 : You may call  the Ann Arbor Water Customer Service at 794-6333 Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM to set up an appointment or ask any other questions about the AMR Program.

Q21 : Whom should I call if I have a billing question resulting from the AMR Program?

A21 : If you have any questions regarding your water bill or utility operations, please call the Ann Arbor Water Customer Service office at 794-6333.

Q22 : Once the AMR system is installed are there any problems that can happen?

A22 : The new system will identify any problems that may have occurred during installation. If a problem occurred, you will be notified. A service visit may be needed. A visit will be arranged at a time that is convenient for you. We simply ask that this be done as quickly as possible so that you and the city get the full value of the new AMR system. If other damage occurs to the unit, such as a cut wire, a service charge may be assessed for making repairs.