CLINTON — It wasn’t the first time inaccurate or false social media posts riled city commissioner John Wise. But, despite having explained the situation with the water meter changeover multiple times coupled with reports on the project by local news media, the misinformation from social media still seems to follow him.
“It seems like I always have to clarify and explain,” Wise said during Monday’s city council meeting.
Wise did not get specific about the nature of the Facebook posts that irked him, but he suggested the claims posted were unreasonable. He emphasized that the meter project was a complicated process, and it would take time to work out all the bugs.
“It’s a new system being installed, it’s not 100 percent, it’s not all done, there are still a lot of larger meters that haven’t been changed yet.”
The water meter replacement project began early last summer. It involves replacing all meters in town with new ones that feed to a central computer system. The meters, and the system in general, are far more accurate and also can detect and locate water leaks.
Not all residents made appointments in a timely fashion to have their meters replaced, although much of that situation has been rectified.
“It’s like any other system, we have to get all the bugs worked out,” Wise said. “It’s not meeting the exact expectations we talked about, but it’s still in the process of being taken care of.”
Some residents have complained about higher water bills with the new system, but other residents told the Journal their bills dropped substantially after new meters were installed.
The City of Washington, Ill. installed that same system, and it took several months to reach optimal operation, Wise reported.
“People take one sentence, they run with it, and throw it out when they have an axe to grind or they’re mad at somebody.”
Wise said he would prefer residents call him when they have questions rather than speculate on social media.
Wise was not the only commissioner annoyed by activity on social media.
Commissioner Dan Ballenger asked residents not to post names of people involved in accidents or other emergency situations until those names are released by officials. He said often social media makes those names public before authorities have time to contact victims’ relatives.
“Everything happens so fast on social media,” he said. “We just need people to be respectful in those situations.”
Generally, as a matter of policy, news reporting agencies do not make public names of accident victims until they are confirmed by authorities.