81-year-old Baraboo woman has water shut off - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

81-year-old Baraboo woman has water shut off after refusing smart meter

BARABOO (WKOW) -- Inside 81-year-old Audrey Parker's home, you won't hear the water running. City officials shut it off Tuesday after she refused to switch from an analog water meter to a smart meter.

"Obviously it hasn't been good," Parker says about the hassle. She's had to buy bottled water, shower and do laundry at her daughter's house and use rain water to flush the toilets.  

While Baraboo officials say smart meters are more efficient and replace an antiquated system, Parker maintains she's seen research showing they cause health problems. She also believes a central database is an invasion of privacy.

Utilities Superintendent Wade Peterson says the city's Public Safety Committee did its own research and feels the system is safe. People are not able to opt out. 

"You have to come up with a whole 'another kind of rate structure or a fee to accommodate that, and the committee decided that was not a route they were interested in taking," Peterson says about opting out.

"I've always paid water bills right on time, never been late with any bills, so why are they harassing me so badly?" Parker asks. She says she went to the city last year and was told she needed to switch over, or her water would be shut off. Nine months later and it actually happened.

"They said they were gunna shut the water off but they didn't come so I thought I didn't have to worry about it," she says. Parker says she'll continue to go without water until the city allows her to use the analog meter.

Peterson thinks they me be at a stand still. "There's no consideration for compromise. We feel that this is the system that we're going with," he says.

Madison Water Utility is also in the process of switching to smart meters, but Madison customers can opt out for a monthly fee.

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