Almost a year after some Wauwatosa residents raised concerns about the city's decision to install new smart water meters on their properties, only a few have chosen to opt-out for health concerns about radiation.

In July 2014, one local man, Greg Schliesmann, turned to the media to voice his frustration over the installation attempt. He claimed the city threatened to shut off his water if he did not allow the smart meter on his property, but city staff said the man received three notices, the final being to disconnect, though the city says there were no plans to turn off his water.

Of the approximately 12,000 smart water meters installed throughout Wauwatosa over the last three years, six have chosen to opt-out, mainly for concerns about the radio frequencies they emit, said Water Superintendent James Wojcehowicz.

According to the American Cancer Society, concerns have been raised about the safety of smart meters, mainly because they give off the same kinds of radio-frequency waves as cellphones and wi-fi devices. The meters give off 'much less' radiation than a cellphone and it's 'very unlikely' that living in a house with a smart meter increases the risk of cancer, according to the organization.

'The house locations are scattered throughout the city,' he said of those residents nixing the idea of having a smart water meter installed, arguing that the remote, outside registers are archaic and are much more labor intensive.

How they work

The smart water meters, which relay wireless readings to a central control system at city hall using radio frequencies, are labor savers, said Wojcehowicz, as they reduce the number of stops workers have to make to properties throughout the city, saving money over time.

Those residents who opt-out are billed $47.84 per quarter to help pay for city staff who have to make a trip to the property and record an individual reading manually.

About 15,500 smart water meters in total will be installed throughout Wauwatosa, a project expected to be completed in 2017.

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