Victoria to install new water meters

Published 12:58 pm Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Representatives of the Victoria Town Council voted to approve a large-scale, multi-year plan to replace its current water meters during the council’s Jan. 8 meeting.

According to a release from the town, the new meters would yield better readings and a more transparent billing process.

“These meters allow for more accurate reading of water usage and also allow a 30 day history of usage to be viewed,” the release cited.

Town officials estimate that the current meter reading process takes approximately 96 hours each month. This amount of time can increase during bad weather, employee work schedules or water in the meter box.

The new system, according to the town, is estimating a significant cut in the reading process, at approximately 3-5 hours per month in addition to providing more accurate readings. The release cited that the town has installed electromagnetic meters since 2016.

“These have been used to replace broken meters and have been installed in any area in town where new water lines have been installed,” the release cited.

“This meter has an operating range of 0.11 gallons per minute to 55 gallons per minute,” the release cited concerning the meters. “This operating range will allow for more accurate usage readings given today’s water saving plumbing fixtures and devices.”

The meters allow for town officials to receive an hour by hour history of water usage for up to 30 days. The meters can also allow town employees to determine if there is a leak in a customer’s water system.

In 2019, town officials estimate, each meter would cost approximately $120. The meters would be installed by town employees.

Describing how the meters work, town officials cited, “Each meter will be paired to a radio transmitter that will transmit the meter information by radio waves to a vehicle mounted receiver and computer. This system will use mapping software that has the GPS coordinates of all installed electromagnetic meters. The software will be able to notify the operator if any meters have not been read to allow for a re-read of the meter. The radio transmitters for each meter will cost approximately $145.”

The release cited that the town plans to have approximately 100 meters and transmitters installed by July 1, and have the necessary software and equipment in place to begin automated reading on the installed meters.

“Each successive year the plan calls for the installation of a minimum of 150 meters and transmitters until all analog meters have been replaced,” the release cited.

This is expected to come with a hefty price tag, according to town officials.

“Initial investment for the first year is approximately $53,000, which includes all automated reading software and equipment,” the release cited. “Each successive year the annual cost is approximately $40,000 to install 150 more meters and transmitters. If finances and workload allow, more than 150 meters may be installed in any given year to speed the project up.”

Town officials said they are not planning for a utility fee increase to pay for the system, citing that finances for the system would be reallocated within current water rates.

The release cited that the project also isn’t expected to interfere with the town’s goal to attempt to rebuild the water lines on all or part of one street each year.

“To date, town crews have rebuilt 1,000 feet of water line on Norfolk Avenue and 1,400 feet on Old Court Street and Grove Avenue,” the release cited. “The town crews will begin in the next few days work on the next project of rebuilding the water line on First Street from Main Street to Marshall Avenue, across Marshall Avenue to Second Street, and from Marshall Avenue back to the intersection of Second Street and Jefferson Avenue. This project will see the installation of a new 6-inch water line, 2 fire hydrants on First Street, a hydrant on Marshall Avenue, and replacement of the hydrant at Second Street and Jefferson Avenue. These projects have been completed by Town of Victoria Public Works at a substantial savings to the town and without interruption of normal town services.”

For questions about this project, contact the town office at (434) 696-2343.