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August 9, 2010


Farrell Sklerov / Mike Saucier (718) 595-6600

DEP Connects 50% of City With Wireless Meters

417,000th Meter Unit Installed at Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz's Home; Automated Meters Will Help City, Customers Better Manage Water Use

Environmental Protection Commissioner Cas Holloway today announced that DEP has installed 50% of the city's Automated Meter Reading (AMR) units, putting the agency ahead of schedule to connect all 834,000 customers by January 2012. Wireless water meters transmit water consumption data at least four times per day and will end the use of estimated water bills and give water customers more accurate and timely records of water usage. Commissioner Holloway joined Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz at his home, where the 417,000th wireless meter unit in the city was installed today. The installation of the wireless unit coincides with Brooklyn's first day of AMR Online, a new system that allows for real-time, online water use and bill tracking for homeowners and businesses, which was announced by Mayor Bloomberg last month. The online system, the latest component of the citywide conversion to Automated Meter Reading, allows water customers to identify ways to conserve water, reduce water bills, and detect leaks.

"Online wireless water meter reading — what we call AMR — gives our customers the power to see their water use every day, and make informed decisions for their families," said Commissioner Holloway. "It will also help DEP and our customers detect and fix leaks before they become a costly billing problem, or damage infrastructure or nearby homes and businesses. I am thrilled to be at the home of Brooklyn's most famous resident to mark this important milestone, and kick-off AMR online in Brooklyn. Starting today, Brooklyn customers with wireless meters will be able to log on to nyc.gov to get reliable and accurate measurements of their water use and what it costs, at least four times a day. This is just the beginning of what we will be able to do for our customers with AMR, and a great example of how Mayor Bloomberg is using cutting-edge technology to make City government more transparent and effective."
"Brooklyn is the most wired, tech-savvy borough — not to mention the greenest and most environmentally conscious — so I know Brooklynites will put this new system to good use," said Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. "I have to admit, until I became a first time homeowner recently, I didn't think too much about water conservation because, as an apartment dweller, I wasn't paying the water bills. Now I am doing all I can to keep my costs down and use only the water my wife Jamie and I need. So let's all pledge to turn off our faucets, turn on our computers and do everything possible to keep the water flowing."

Water customers in the remaining boroughs with wireless water meters will be able to track water usage online on a rolling basis: The Bronx started July 12; Queens started July 26; Brooklyn is starting today; Manhattan is starting August 23 and Staten Island is starting September 7.  All water customers in New York City are expected to have wireless meters — and real-time, online access to their water bills — by January 2012, with between 7,000 and 9,000 customers added to the network each week. New York City will be the largest City in the world to utilize wireless water meters citywide once installation is completed. To see installation schedules throughout the city and an explanation of the free installation process visit www.nyc.gov/dep.

Customers with wireless water meters using the online tracking tool will be able to see the dollar value of the water they have used as they use it, and view past billing and payment history. The online tracking tool is being phased in by borough, where customers that have wireless water meters can track water usage online by going to www.nyc.gov/dep.

Most customers connected to the wireless network receive meter readings four times per day, with certain large buildings receiving information hourly. Information on usage will be available by day, week, month, year, and billing period, with the ability for the customer to compare usage during those time frames.

The wireless Automated Meter Reading system consists of small, low-power radio transmitters connected to individual water meters that send readings every six hours to a network of rooftop receivers throughout the City. The total cost of citywide installation is $252 million New York City will be the largest city in the world to use wireless water metering. The meter reading receivers are part of the New York City Wireless Network, administered by Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications.

The wireless system will reduce the cost of City government by substantially reducing billing disputes and other costly aspects of the quarterly billing system that we are phasing-out as AMR goes live, and eliminating the need for a meter-reading contract that costs the City more than $3.6 million a year. It is also help DEP to increase water bill collection rates, so we can make sure that those who can afford to pay their bills actually pay.

The City's PlaNYC long-term sustainability goals will be bolstered through the use of wireless readers and online tracking by promoting water conservation and providing City government with better data for use in conservation and system planning initiatives.

DEP manages the City's water supply, providing more than 1 billion gallons of water each day to more than 9 million residents, including 8 million in New York City, and residents of Ulster, Orange, Putnam and Westchester counties. New York City's water is delivered from a watershed that extends more than 125 miles from the City, and comprises 19 reservoirs, and three controlled lakes. Approximately 7,000 miles of water mains, tunnels and aqueducts bring water to homes and businesses throughout the five boroughs, and 7,400 miles of sewer lines take wastewater to 14 in-City treatment plants.

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