Meridian Star

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March 4, 2013

New digital water meters going in Marion

MERIDIAN —     Workers for the Marion Water and Sewer Department have been on their hands and knees and up to their elbows in mud while changing out old water meters with new models that will revolutionize this part of the town's infrastructure.

    Andrew Bateman, superintendent of the department, gave a tour and a lesson on technology he and the town's leaders believe will prove to be cost effective and revenue producing.

    "The meters we are changing out have been in service for twice as long as they should have been," said Bateman, as he watched one of his men dig into the red clay mud. "These new meters will change a lot of things for us and for the customer."

    Bateman said the current meters have been in service for the entire 40 years Marion has been incorporated as a town. He said the usual life span of the meters is half that. He touted the accuracy of the new meters and the technology that is built into them.

    "These meters will put out a signal we can pick up on a computer and give us the water usage readouts without us having to leave our vehicles," Bateman said. "That will save us a great deal just on the time it takes to get the readings."

    Typically, Bateman said it takes three to four days to read all the meters but with the new technology he expects only one day, maybe two at the most, will be devoted to reading the meters.

    "No, no more getting chased by dogs either," Bateman said with a laugh when reminded of all the fun he will miss getting out and reading a meter.

    Another big problem with old meters, according to Bateman, is that the older they get the less water flow they register. He estimates that in the last several years the meters have been reading 15 to 20 percent less water flow thereby robbing the city of revenue.

    "By replacing the meters we will gain that revenue back without having to raise rates on water usage by the residents," Bateman pointed out. "The last time we raised rates on water was in 1997."

    The project is being paid solely by the town of Marion with funds from the water and sewer department and the general fund. The total cost ranges in the area of $250,000. Bateman said given the increased revenue from accurate readings and the less time and energy it will take to read the meters, these new units should pay for themselves in five years.

    So far Bateman and his workers have concentrated on switching out the meters to all the residential areas. In about two weeks, when all the residential areas have been swapped out, Bateman said the workers begin changing out the commercial properties.

    "We still probably six to eight weeks left on the entire project," Bateman said. "We will begin training on the computer software to get familiar with it very soon."

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