CLEVELAND -- North Olmsted's Charles Jackson is a Cleveland water system customer who has had multiple billing issues over the years.
"And they weren't too effective resolving them, to be honest with you," he says.
Now Jackson's among the first wave of system customers to get a new high-tech water meter.
All 420,000 customers should get them by the end of 2013.
The $75 million system involves replacing outdated indoor meters and installing outdoor radio transmitters.
The system monitors hour by hour water usage to detect changes and, hopefully, catch leaks or problems with defective equipment before they cause whopping bills.
"When we notice there's a pattern deviating from normal consumption, we can proactively notify you, so instead of getting $1,000 or $2,000 water bills, we'll be able to identify things in advance," said Cleveland Division of Utilities spokesman Jason Wood.
Customers are getting explanatory notices and advisorys to set up installation appointments.
Things are being slowly phased in to check performance issues. The goal is to have all customers switched by the end of 2013.
The Water Department's made other consultant-related changes to upgrade its service peformance.
About 80 percent of calls are now answered in less than half a minute.
And a backlog of thousands of disputed bills should disappear in a few months.
Charles Jackson's taking a "wait and see" attitude about the new meters. He's waiting for his first bill under the new system.
"I don't expect the best. They have not had a good track record," he said.
Customers making appointments should check crews arriving at their homes.
They should be wearing Clear Reads shirts that are the project's official designations.
And homeowners should ask for official identification before admitting crews.