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Falls City considers new water meters
FALLS CITY -- Growing concern over lost water revenue due to the inaccuracy of aging meters has officials here considering the installation of radio-read water meters. This topic was discussed by the Falls City City Council at its Aug. 14 meeting.
According to Public Works Supervisor Jeremy Mandel, the city pumped between 5 million and 6 million gallons of water last month, but lost as much as 1 million gallons.
“That’s obscene,” he said.
There are 300 meters on Falls City’s municipal water system. Mandel estimates it would cost up to $40 per meter to change each of the current meters to the digital, radio-read meters. One quote he received said the city could obtain the necessary software -- a $25,000 value -- at no additional charge, if it purchases all of the meters at once.
In addition to being more accurate because of being able to record lower water flows than their analog counterparts, Mandel said radio-read meters would take a fraction of the time for workers to read. Meter data is obtained either by computer and a wand operated by a worker driving a truck past each house, or by a central tower that collects data from transmitters located inside each meter. The software then would generate bills. It also would alert public works personnel to possible leaks.
However, Mandel said, customers likely would see their water bills increase, since there would be a more accurate accounting of actual usage.
The city will conduct further research on radio-read meters. City Secretary Lauren Sturm said the council would then solicit public bids prior to making a purchase.
Also during the meeting, the council:
•Voted to rehire Mandel for another year effective Aug. 3, following a brief closed-session meeting.
•Voted to close Yoakum Street between Andrew and Meyer streets for the Holy Trinity Church Picnic on Labor Day weekend.
•Discussed adjusting its bulk-water rates to become more competitive with other municipalities.
In attendance: Mayor Brent Houdmann and councilmen Andrew Wiatrek, Jeff Johnson, Gery Jendrusch, and Steve Swierc; City Secretary Lauren Sturm and Public Works Supervisor Jeremy Mandel.
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