CHICAGO (CBS) — City officials said they are on track to install 15,000 water meters in Chicago homes by the end of the year, potentially saving homeowners hundreds of dollars a year.

It’s a relatively small piece of black plastic, but for Grace Bowers’ water bill, the meter has made a big difference.

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“Prior to meter installment, my bill was like $135 a month. It’s down to less than $16,” she said.

That’s because, before the meter was installed, her bill was based on estimated water use. With the meter, her bill has gone down by more than 80 percent.

“A lot of our seniors, especially, that have smaller households do not use as much water as they’re being estimated to have used,” Ald. Jason Ervin (28th) said.

According to the city’s Department of Water Management, single family homes see an average savings of 30 percent on their water bills with a meter, and two-flats see a 43 percent reduction in their bills.

“Any resident who owns a single-family home or a two-flat, and is current on their water bill is eligible for a water meter,” Water Commissioner Randy Conner said.

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The city has installed more than 117,000 such meters since 2009. They plan to install another 194,000 over the next several years.

As of the start of November 2017, 60 percent of the Water Department’s accounts are metered. City officials hope to get most of the rest of the homes in Chicago equipped with meters in less than a decade.

Ervin said he’s not worried about declining revenue for the Water Department, because he’s more concerned about saving water from Lake Michigan.

“We need to conserve that resource for not only ourselves, but for future generations,” he said.

Bowers said saving more than $100 on her water bill every month has made a huge difference in her life.

“I could buy another pair of pants, or a jacket,” she said.

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For more information on how to sign up for a water meter, go to, or call 311.