Baltimore will outsource water meter reading operations to the same third-party vendor that installed water meters throughout the city earlier this decade, Mayor Jack Young announced Wednesday.
Young said the city has signed a five-year contract with Itron, a Washington state based company, to conduct meter readings, small meter installation and general maintenance. It’s not the first time the company has worked with Baltimore: in 2013, the city awarded Itron an $83 million contract to overhaul and upgrade its water metering infrastructure, which included adding additional meters.
“Our customers deserve accurate and timely water bills,” Mayor Young said in a statement. “The fact that this continues to be an issue even after we invested in automated meters means that we must take further action to address the problem.”
He said that outsourcing meter maintenance to the company will both increase the city’s revenue and reduce operational costs to the tune of $50 million in savings over the 5-year contract.
Baltimore provides water and sewer services to more than 410,000 customers, half of whom live in Baltimore County. The savings will go to water bill financial assistance programs for low-income city customers, as mandated by the Water Accountability and Equity Act, according to the Democrat’s office.
The mayor delayed the implementation of the WAEA, which would establish a tiered water billing discount system and create an independent office for customer issues, four days before it was due to launch over the summer, citing the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the city’s budget.