Wate r meter transmission unit

Water meter transmission unit

The mayor’s latest newsletter explains why so many people are getting estimated water bills. The tl;dr is that the “meter transmission units” that were supposed to have a lifespan of 20 years have been dying after 8-10 years. The city is working with the manufacturer to rectify the situation at their expense. Unfortunately, the supply chain issues that have plagued us all during the pandemic are slowing down getting replacements. See below for more details:



Estimated Water Bills


A critical piece of infrastructure in our water system is our “meter transmission units.” These units transmit the data from the water meter to our billing system about the amount of water used in each of our homes and businesses. These units are located on an exterior wall of a property.


Just over 50% of these units have stopped working, requiring each of us to read the water meter in our basements and send them to City Hall or to use the estimated water meter readings.


During the 2010-2012 period, the City replaced all residential water meters and installed a meter reading transmission system that allows Newton’s Department of Public Works Utilities employees to remotely collect data for billing without entering homes. The system, with an estimated lifespan of 20 years, worked well until this past year when a significant number of the water meter transmission units (called “MTUs”) began to malfunction and not transmit readings. The MTU is a fixture located on the outside of homes and businesses that is connected to the meter inside and transmits data to the City’s billing software.


DPW staff is working with the meter transmission system manufacturer, Mueller Systems, to correct the problem at Mueller’s expense. Unfortunately, the pandemic has created supply chain problems that have backlogged shipment of replacement MTUs.


We continue to replace the MTUs as we receive them from Mueller. We have included the Law Department in an effort to take action to expedite delivery of the replacement MTUs.


Receiving an Estimated Read


In homes and businesses where the MTU has failed, the actual water meters have continued to accurately record water usage. With the MTU no longer transmitting the data on water usage, the City has needed to estimate water use for billing purposes and to request property owners to submit a photo of the meter’s serial number and reading. Affected property owners have been sent letters outlining the problem, explaining how estimated readings are calculated, and how actual readings can be emailed or called in. Click here for that information.


The City is estimating consumption based on computer generated averages of four “like periods” over the past four years. We encourage everyone to read their meter and send in the actual meter reading to our Water Billing Department. We do apologize for the inconvenience.


If you get an estimated bill, please know (no surprise) everyone will eventually have to pay their actual bill. (It’s easy to tell if it’s an estimate as the water bill will be orange and clearly marked as an estimate.)