Meters would give more accurate readings

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 9, 2014

The town of River Falls heard a presentation from Southern Pipe and Supply on radio-read water meters earlier this week.

Brian Riley and Scott Carpenter presented the devices to the town council.

Carpenter explained to the council that its readings are completely accurate to an eighth of a gallon.

“Every drop is accounted for,” he said.

Carpenter explained the device has an odometer much like a car.

It also features data logging, which would allow for officials to see when a leak began or when a specific hike occurred in a customer’s water usage.

“It will allow you to be proactive,” Carpenter said. “You can tell your customers they might want to check it out.”

Carpenter said the program also allows officials to print a bar graph to show water usage.

Another perk to having the radio-read meters is that employees who read the meters will have their time cut in half.

“It makes the system tighter and allows for rates to be as low as possible,” he said.

The devices come with 20-year warranties in which 100 percent is covered the first year and then the next 10 are prorated at around 10 percent per year.

Carpenter also told the council there are remote disconnect options, which would allow for easier disconnection for problem customers.

“It will alleviate safety issues and keep employees safe,” he said.

Regular radio-read meters cost between $175 and $185 per meter, and officials could expect to add about $60 to that price to get the remote disconnect option.

The town has requested funding to help pay for the new meters. It is estimated the project would cost more than $120,000 and water rate increases have been approved.

Residents learned in April that the town was submitting an application for the project and had made it through the pre-application phase.

In June, the council unanimously approved a motion to follow the recommendation of the Alabama Rural Water Association to raise its rates.

The approval called for an increase from $12 to $16 this year; from $16 to $18 next year; and from $18 to $20 in 2016. The flat rates are for the first 2,000 gallons of water used at a residence, with a charge or $3.50 per 1,000 gallons to follow.

The council also approved dropping commercial water rates from a flat rate of $50 per month to $25 per month. The flat rate will cover businesses for up to 20,000 gallons of water with a $3.50 charge per 1,000 gallons following.