Grassroots town installs new smart meters,
reduces meter reading time

North City-Coello Water, North City, IL

North City, IL is the type of town many Americans wish was still around, but didn’t think was.

They have a rich history of working together for the betterment of their community. When the town’s primary industry of coal mining closed in 1954, residents refused to call it quits. Through grassroots efforts, the community rallied to raise money to keep the town operative; to this day, benefit dinners are a way of life for North City to raise money for the community's needs. Most recently, the town demonstrated their cooperative attitude during an impressive installation of new meters and meter reading system.

Prior to the town’s investment in a new metering system, North City-Coello Water had dial-read mechanical meters from various meter manufacturers. All their meters are located in pits and 99% of them are submerged during the rainy season, making manual meter reading nearly impossible;

the meter reader had to dig out every meter each time for an accurate read. This manual reading process involved one subcontractor billing 30 hours a month to read, and many of these reads were estimates because meters are difficult to reach. Determined to find a way to read meters in a more

timely fashion, North City-Coello began their meter system search. One challenge they found during their search was the disparity between price versus technology; demonstrations from conventional meter manufactures showcased antiquated technology with an unreasonable price tag.

The solution

The Utility: North City-Coello Water in North City, IL

Metering Technology: flowIQ® smart ultrasonic meters and READy AMR system

Benefits Realized: Reduced meter reading time from 30 hours to 3½ hours

Then North City-Coello found Kamstrup Water Metering. Kamstrup’s flowIQ® smart ultrasonic water meters are radio-read meters that perform exceptionally well underwater. Because North City’s meters are in a harsh installation and operating environment, the town also decided to fit their meter pit lids with low profile external antennas. Kamstrup meters are read with the automated meter reading (AMR) system called READy.

With READy, North City-Coello gets all the benefits of remote meter reading without the extreme investments in reading equipment. Using a tablet, READy plots all meter locations on Google Maps, making the meter reading route much simpler.

In keeping with the community’s reputation for a cooperative attitude, the installation was an impressive achievement. “We cooperated with a phenomenal team to install 63 meters a day, including fitting our pit lids with the external antennas, in just 10 working days,” said Linda Gilbert, volunteer for

North City-Coello Water. Once the installation was complete, North City-Coello was able to get a 100% read of the meters—with zero estimates. And instead of the 30 hours per month the utility had to pay a subcontractor, North City-Coello conducts their meter reading in-house in only 3 and a half hours. 

“The meter reading process is fantastic and we are very pleased with it,” said Gilbert. “Kamstrup has been wonderful to work with and we are thankful for the high quality of the product.”

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