Commercial replacements 80% complete
by Melanie Jongsma
LANSING, Ill. (August 15, 2018) – “I’ll take the extra few minutes and show ’em where the shutoff valve is,” says John G. of Calumet City Plumbing. “Little things like that can help put a person’s mind at ease and stuff like that. We just want the people to feel comfortable.”
As part of the team of plumbers installing smart water meters all over Lansing, John knows that some people are “nervous about makin’ a change.” So he’s happy to provide any extra education or information that will make the transition easier. Like all of the installers, John also takes care to fill out a form that provides the old water meter’s serial number, the new meter’s serial number, the last reading on the old meter, the date of the change, and the location of the meter. That form is another way to add to customers’ peace of mind. If their next water bill is unusually high, they can call the Village and have the necessary information all in one place.
Working with professionals
This kind of service and attention to detail is one reason the Village is pleased to be working with Calumet City Plumbing to replace all residential and commercial water meters in Lansing. It’s a mandatory conversion project that will provide more accurate readings and more efficient billing, by preventing hijacked water use and repeated nonpayments.
As of August 11, 830 commercial water meters had been replaced, so that part of the project is 80 percent complete. Of the nearly 8,000 residential homes in Lansing, 3,100—or 40 percent—have had their water meters replaced.
An experienced plumber like John can replace about 15 meters in a day, though occasionally the process is not as smooth as he prefers. “Poor housekeeping” is the number one deterrent, making it difficult to access the meter. And occasionally old valves need to be replaced, a process that requires shutting off the water, accessing the old valves, and installing new parts. John and his fellow installers have divided the village into geographic “pods,” so they can minimize travel time between installation appointments. As a pod nears completion, Village officials send out a next wave of letters to residents, asking them to call or go online to schedule their installation.
Getting the lead out
In spite of the ongoing communication, the reputation of Calumet City Plumbing, and the good reports from residents whose meters have successfully been replaced, some homes in Lansing have been slow to respond. Ken Reynolds, Communications Director for the Village, explains that there is one more step before fees will be levied: “Our Public Works Department is now coordinating an effort to go door-to-door one more time to prevent potential water fees being increased or service shut off.”
Reynolds is also quick to reassure residents that there is no “lead situation” in Lansing’s water supply. The “situation” is that in a few of Lansing’s older homes, it is lead pipes that connect the home to the village water supply. Disturbing these lead pipes—such as during the installation of a new water meter—can potentially temporarily raise lead levels in the water as it enters the home.
Installers like John will tell people whether they have lead, copper, or galvanized steel service lines connecting their home to the village water supply. If it’s lead, he explains to people that they should run their water for about three minutes before using it.
Reynolds says, “It’s important to note this is a precautionary step. All lead levels in water supplied to Lansing comply with IEPA standards and the disturbance to pipes with this project is most often very minimal. It’s highly unlikely there will be any issues whatsoever.” The Village was legally required to send a “lead letter” to Lansing residents, and some people mistakenly concluded that Lansing has a lead problem.
“We did not send the letter because there was a problem,” affirms Reynolds, “only to give them options if they wanted to take preventative measures.”
Scheduling your installation appointment
Appointment scheduling can take place 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, by phone or website. Appointments are available on Mondays–Thursdays as well as Saturdays. To schedule installation of your new water meter, contact the scheduling system directly:
- Call M.E. Simpson Company: 888-252-1521
- Or visit www.mesimpson.com/lansing and enter the account code provided with your most recent letter
“The majority of people in Lansing have been really nice,” says John. “Some people don’t want to cooperate, but majority have been really very nice, ya know?”
- Update: Smart water meter installation nearly complete (May 2019 article)