Naperville to Implement “Smart” Water Meters in 2021

by K.T. Weaver, SkyVision Solutions

Naperville, IL – The City of Naperville has announced final plans to install wireless transmitters for the City’s 43,500 water meters.  The City has named the initiative as “the Water 2.0 project.”  The City has approved contracts with project contractor Core & Main which will be working with partners Sensus and VEPO.  Throughout 2021, VEPO will be visiting customer homes and businesses to install a meter interface unit.

City residents wanting to avoid installation of the wireless transmitters can do so by applying through a web portal interface at https://www.naperville.il.us/nextgenwater.  Go to the bottom of the webpage and click where it says “Opt out of the Water 2.0 project to continue receiving manual water meter readings … Click Here to Apply.”

As stated at the City web page: “The opt-out program may include a one-time charge for the cost to provide and install certain equipment, if determined to be necessary.  An additional monthly fee will be charged for the technician to manually read the unit.”  The “Water Only” refusal option is $31.44 per month.  If the Customer is refusing both “Electric & Water,” the charge will be $38.84 per month. [1]

SkyVision Solutions has previously discussed how collecting both electric and water (or gas) granular usage data constitutes an extraordinary invasion of privacy. [2]

Quoting a paper entitled, “Privacy Technology Options for Protecting and Processing Utility Readings,” [3] by computer security and privacy expert George Danezis, dated March 1, 2013:

“Even more intrusive information can be inferred when combining electricity with other utility readings, for example water and gas readings.  Such combined readings can be used to detect different patterns of cooking in a household, since cooking activity exhibits correlated uses of electricity, gas and water.  Similarly, the frequency of use of a dishwasher or washing machine can be inferred.  Finally, the combined use of large volumes of water along with either gas or electricity can be used to infer how often members of the household have showers.  Electricity and water provides information about night time patterns of sanitation, and even how often and when inhabitants use the toilet overnight.”

As recent as 2016, the City of Naperville was on record stating that “smart” water meters were not economically justified for use in Naperville. [4]  Evidently something changed since 2016, or possibly there were other overriding factors considered in the decision.

In any case, in order to avoid exposure to the wireless transmissions and to avoid at least some of the privacy invasions, if you can afford the extra monthly fee, it is recommended that you refuse installation of the wireless interface unit for water meters by applying at the City of Naperville website as mentioned above.

References and Notes

[1] The non-wireless metering alternative (NWMA) fees are documented in the City of Naperville Municipal Code Title 8, Chapter 5, Section 8-.5-3, “Wireless Meter Reading.”

[2] “How Smart Water Meters Invade Privacy,” SkyVision Solutions Blog Article, February 2015, at https://smartgridawareness.org/2015/02/13/how-smart-water-meters-invade-privacy/

[3] “Privacy Technology Options for Protecting and Processing Utility Readings,” George Danezis, dated March 1, 2013; this document was prepared as background material for working groups dealing with privacy issues related to granular data collected utility smart meters.  The entire document is available here:  Privacy Options by G. Danezis 2013.

[4]  “Smart Water Meters Not Economically Justified for Use in Naperville, According to City Director,” SkyVision Solutions Blog Article, February 2016, at https://smartgridawareness.org/2016/02/25/smart-water-meters-not-economically-justified-for-use-in-naperville/

 

 

About SkyVision Solutions

Raising public awareness and finding solutions for smart grid issues related to invasions of privacy, data security, cyber threats, health and societal impacts, as well as hazards related to radiofrequency (RF) radiation emissions from all wireless devices, including smart meters.
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