Editor's note: The story has been edited to include the correct cost of the new water meters. The cost included in the original story was incorrect. 

LINCOLN – The Water Department is going high-tech, which will allow customers to check their water usage from their cellphones or home computers. 

“This is not just an ordinary meter,” said Mayor Lew Watson. “This will put us in the forefront of technology.”

He said current city water meters are being replaced with new smart water meters, where individual customers, as well as city Water Department personnel, can get immediate access to real-time water usage information. 

Watson said the battery life for the current meters is expiring after 14 years of service. 

He said the new high-tech Badger Meters will replace the old meters. 

“It’s going to benefit both the customers and the city,” said Water Department Manager Danny Groce. 

Groce said the city has about 3,500 customers. 

Last week, the Lincoln council unanimously approved the purchase of the new water meters from Central Pipe Supply Inc. at a cost of $1.44 million and also approved the installation of the new meters by Tren-Tay Inc. at a cost of $263,975.

“The water meters are top of the line,” said Councilman Billy Pearson. “The citizens are going to be real pleased.”

Groce said workers should begin replacing the old meters next month. 

Watson said customers can access information about their individual meters from the Internet and also get real-time information about how much water they have used during the month. The smart meters can also send out warnings to customers if they have a possible leak, which could save them hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.

He said a notice would also be sent to the Water Department if a meter detects a possible leak. 

Watson said with the new meters, it is not necessary for a city worker to physically go out and read each individual water meter, which will save both time and money for the city. Water Department personnel will access individual meter information to determine water usage and costs for each billing cycle.