Smarter water registers coming to homes, businesses

By: Dean Vaglia | Mount Clemens-Clinton-Harrison Journal | Published September 16, 2023

 Harrison Township workers and contractors will install new Master Meter water meter registers, seen here, in Harrison Township homes throughout 2023 and 2024.

Harrison Township workers and contractors will install new Master Meter water meter registers, seen here, in Harrison Township homes throughout 2023 and 2024.

Photo provided by Harrison Township


HARRISON TOWNSHIP — Keeping track of your water usage is about to become much easier as new water meter registers will be installed in Harrison Township homes and businesses over the next year.

Registers are the devices that allow water meters to be read and they send out radio signals to township officials that are used for billing purposes.

Built by Master Meter, the new registers will operate similarly to the township’s existing ones but come with the ability for township water customers to check and manage their water usage via an online portal.

“You can download an app and you can get real-time information about your own water bill,” said Harrison Township Supervisor Ken Verkest. “You can set your account to ‘vacation mode’ on this app and if you go on vacation, you shouldn’t have any consumption. This app would give you a signal or a notification on your own if there was consumption.”

According to Verkest, only residents will have the ability to change their water consumption through the register. Township employees will only be able to read data from the registers remotely as part of its existing meter reading work.

“It’s going to be similar to how the water department (already) handles its work, but hopefully more dependable than our current reading devices,” said Justin Murphy, Harrison Township’s public services director.

Each register is expected to last 15-20 years with a 10-year warranty and officials have found the software to be a big improvement over prior register software. The $3.1 million register changeover project began due to failures with the registers the township had installed about 10 years ago and a lack of manufacturer support for those meters.

“We didn’t get great software support and support on the billing side,” Murphy said. “The registers are failing now at a pretty high rate. It’s been a long process to investigate companies, but it’s also been a long time coming and I think this will be great for the township on the billing side and for the residents on the side that they can view and monitor their own use.”

Installing the new registers will require a township employee or a contractor to enter many single-family homes in the township because the registers are installed on top of the meter. The township’s subcontractor has already started sending out letters asking residents to schedule an appointment for the 10-20 minute installation.

Some residences and businesses will not require entry if the water meter is placed outside of the home, like a multi-family condominium where each unit has a meter, but the meters are located in an external service area.

Buildings that have a single heavy-duty meter will see their mechanical meters replaced by ultrasonic ones. Ultrasonic water meters use vibrations to detect water flow, allowing for high and low volume water usage to be tracked. The township has already installed an ultrasonic meter in the Metro Tower Apartments complex.

Between the thousands of buildings needing new registers, the time it takes to schedule a meter replacement and the gradual pace the township workers and contractors are proceeding at, Verkest believes the project will take “the better part of a year.”

For more information about the register replacement process, contact the Harrison Township Water and Sewer Department at (586) 466-1426.