COPPERAS COVE — Fifty property owners will have their water meters replaced and tested as the City Council mulls whether to employ new technology.
Starting Monday, Utility Metering Solutions will remove 50 meters throughout the city to test their accuracy at several flow levels.
Those meters will be replaced with new meters that can feature radio technology for easier reading. However, all 50 meters may not have radio communication devices installed.
The proposed meters allow more accurate and easier readings, said Rex Baxter, a regional sales manager for Neptune Technology Group, a subsidiary of Utility Metering Solutions. He pitched the new meters to the council Jan. 15.
If implemented across town, these meters could save the city money and water, said City Manager Andrea Gardner.
“I think that there is a possibility that (some meters) are so old that they are not reading correctly,” Gardner said.
When a meter doesn’t read correctly, water is moving past it but the meter is not counting the gallons used. Skipped water isn’t billed to the user, Gardner said. The city also has to report it as lost water, which is submitted to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
The radio meters can tell a
property owner and the city when water is running through the line, Baxter said. It helps notify residents of leaks and reduces water consumption.
If and when the radio communication devices are installed, meter readers won’t have to collect individual measurements, causing less human error, he said.
Aaron Paul, the city’s utility billing superintendent, said the city’s meter readers have a less than 1 percent misreading rate because of human error, but the new meters could decrease that rate.
With more than 13,400 meters in the city, the time savings could be significant, Paul said. Presently, there are three meter readers and a service technician who each spend 40 hours a week checking water meters.
Some of those checks can be time consuming. Certain older neighborhoods have meters in backyards or yards of neighboring properties, Paul said.
With the new meters, readers would drive down a street and take readings without leaving vehicles, Gardner said.
According to Baxter’s presentation, the cost of installing the meters citywide would be close to $5 million, which the company would bill during a 10-year period. The city would see increased revenue from more accurate readings, less water loss, and fewer people would be needed to read meters, leading the company to project a benefit of $1.4 million to the city over 10 years.