By Dee Longfellow

For The Elmhurst Independent


At a recent City Council meeting, Utilities Operations Manager Paul Burris gave a report on the recent change-out of water meters at area homes and offered an overview of the WaterSmart Portal technology.

“This year, we changed out 14,886 water meters and 192 fire bypass meters,” Burris said. “We received 79 complaints during the project, which is .005 percent, an extremely low number of issues considering the number of meters that were changed out. Most of the complaints were related to small drips occurring after the new meter was installed.”

Burris then gave an overview of WaterSmart, the City’s Portal that allows residents to register and participate. So far, 16% of accounts have registered with WaterSmart, a total of 2,418 households. More than 850 customers already have self-monitored leak detectors, according to Burris. He said 15,000 welcome letters were mailed and 8,000 WaterSmart postcards were handed out in an attempt to get people to sign up for the program.

Service requests from June 1-Dec 31, 2018, were mostly to check for leaks, Burris said. Technicians who go to homes find most issues are toilet leaks, leaking outdoor irrigation systems or outdoor spigots, humidifiers on furnaces, swimming pools, etc. A freezer leak was found at a restaurant, as was a leak at a pond pump house.

Residents using WaterSmart are noticing a difference, according to Burris. One person said a toilet that was “running constantly” is now fixed. Another’s water softener was using 45-60 gallons of water, which was reduced to 20 gallons.

“Once leaks are fixed, flows automatically drop,” he said. “WaterSmart can tell you how much water you’re losing, if water is running throughout the night, and so forth. The portal sends a message back to the City from customers.

“A leaking toilet can use as much as 2380 gallons of water over a period of 60 days.”

Burris said at one home, two leaking toilets used 14,570 gallons over a two-week period.

“We found out too late, but at least we found out and were able to repair it,” he said.

The average person uses 80-120 gallons of water per day, Burris said. He talked about other options available to those who sign up for WaterSmart.

The portal can:

  • send leak detection alerts
  • send budget notifications
  • daily high use notifications
  • the ability to compare your home with others in your neighborhood
  • offers recommendations to save water

Burris also noted that the City used to bill in cubic meters, but now bills in gallons.

To sign up for WaterSmart, visit For the City’s link to see how to use the WaterSmart Portal, go to To speak to Burris himself, he can be reached at (630) 530-3042 or

“People find out a basement toilet has been running for three months or something like that, then they get a $900 water bill,” Burris said. “Every alderman hears from someone with that complaint – now there’s something we can do.

“We pay for water, so if any water is wasted, somebody is paying for it. WaterSmart could result in thousands of dollars in savings, not just for residents, but also for the City as well. WaterSmart is invaluable, it truly is.”




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