Sanitary district will help with cost of meter upgrade

CLINTON — The city council approved Monday an intergovernmental agreement that will provide some help in paying for the proposed major upgrade to the city’s water meters.

An agreement between the city and the Clinton Sanitary District will provide funds from the district to share the cost of the upgrade with the city.

“It’s going to be somewhere between $1 million and $1.5 million cost ratio,” said Tim Followell, city administrator.  

Representatives of Sensus recently presented a plan to the council that would result in a major upgrade of meters and provide technology to significantly reduce water loss from leaks.

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

The system also would 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 would take a reading each hour and transmit that data to the collection point.

About 50 of the newer meters already are installed locally and are read by water department staff using hand-held units.  Those meters would be compatible with the new system.

“We would mount an antenna on your water tower and then tell those meters to transmit to the tower,” said Tyler Tucker, Sensus territory manager for Illinois and Missouri.

Sensus owns an FCC primary license frequency.  This allows Sensus to broadcast a non-interference frequency at its maximum-allowed power, about two watts, roughly twice the power of a cell phone.

The power reaches a range that includes all of Clinton and also reaches far enough to include all of Kenney.  Tucker said Sensus is about 20 time more powerful than its closest competitor.

That power also make it possible for the system to employ two-way communications.

On final bill days, a signal would be sent to local meters, and within 60-90 seconds, readings would be obtained for 80-85 percent of the population.  Software changes and meter adjustments also can be handled through the system.

The system comes with a 20-year warranty, 10 years under full warranty, 10 years under a prorated warranty.

 “This is going to cut down on hours reading and increase your cash flow,” Tucker said.  “You’re going to be able to bill much faster and receive payment faster.”

He said the city would be able to take readings and begin printing bills in about 20 minutes.

Another important feature of the system is its ability to locate leaks.  The system can show a leak at a location and record the time the leak took place.  A print out of the activity can also be produced to show a customer.

“It will show incidents of broken pipes or rapid flow taking place at a certain hour,” Tucker said.

Sensus representatives said upgrading Clinton’s meter reading system would move it from a position of reacting to conditions to being able to anticipate and control events.

With the proposed new system, a type of meter that includes a shut-off valve also can be used.  This would make it possible for the water department to shut water off or reduce flow at a property remotely.

The council approved an ordinance prohibiting the use of groundwater as a potable water supply.  Tim Followell reported that the Circle K / Mobil station had reported over the years some small leaks in the area of the gasoline pumps.

He said enough residue was present to signal ground water monitors.

“This will basically create about a four-block area, give or take, that no drinking wells can be drilled,” Followell said.  

He said a similar ban was created several years ago in the area of the 200 block of East. Washington Street.

“Anywhere where there’s been some petroleum issue,” he said. 

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