Green light for water meter upgrade

Plan will reduce water loss, make billing more efficient

CLINTON — The city council approved a plan Monday for a major upgrade to the city’s water meters.  The plan could significantly reduce the amount of water lost each year.

“I hope that you have enough answers that you can see where the value of this is,” Wise told the council during its meeting on Monday.

Wise supplied information about the proposed project to the council and city attorney Steve Myers.

Wise works with the water department each year to evaluate the cost of providing water and determine if rate increases are needed.  

“That’s something we have to do as far as EPA loans,” he said.  “This has nothing to do with that.”

Wise said the meter upgrade was in response to “an abnormal amount of loss.”  

“The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) says we can only have a certain percentage of loss, and we’ve exceeded that for a long time.”

He said the city does its best to locate and repair leaks, and the upgrade project was the next step in that process.  Wise said that water meters tend to slow over time, gradually under calculating water usage.

“We have them tested over time, and we’ve never found one that jumped and went faster,” he said.

He said low flow would not be recorded so it was a focus of the project.

“That’s where we lose a lot of water revenue.”

With the new meters, many residents could see an increase in their water bills because of high accuracy of the system compared to the old meters.

“It’s just a fact of life,” Wise said.  “But, it’s only because you’re being charged for the full amount of water that you’re really using.”

He said the goal of the city was simply to recoup the cost of supplying water.

Wise also emphasized again that no water department personnel would be laid off because of the change.

Representatives of Sensus / Core & Main presented the plan to the city council in late 2017.

During his multiple tenures as commissioner of the water department, Wise had said one of the most difficult situations could be convincing a resident he had an undiscovered water leak.  The upgrade to the city’s water meter system would not only significantly reduce the time it takes to read meters, it could identify leaks at individual locations down to the times of day the leaks occur.

The company will install an antenna on top of Clinton’s west side water tower.  The new meters will transmit the data to the antenna, which will enter the system for processing.  This will eliminate the need to manually read each local meter.

The system also will reduce or eliminate error occurring at the individual meters.  Some meters removed locally displayed as much as a 100,000-gallon deficit between what the meter measured and what it sent to the display mounted on the exterior of homes and buildings.

The new meters will take a reading each hour and transmit that data to the collection point.

The Clinton Sanitary District will share in the cost of installing the new system.

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