Tallmadge -- The city's residential water meter upgrade and replacement project is on pace for completion by this fall.
The Automatic Meter Reading System Project for all residential water customers began June 24 and is expected to be completed within 12 weeks, according to Mayor Dave Kline.
The city bought the new radio read meters and individual electronic components from United Systems, and workers with Utility Sales Agency will be installing them. Kline said the workers will be wearing reflective T-shirts and displaying identification badges.
Over the past 15 years, the city has gradually been replacing residential water meters, but now that a newer technology called radio read is available, each of the estimated 5,000 meters in the city will either be updated with new electronic components or completely replaced with meters with the electronics in them. Kline estimated that half of the meters will be updated with new electronics, and the other half will be completed replaced.
Kline told City Council June 23 that 90 percent of the meters throughout Tallmadge are outside of residents' homes. The rest -- 390 meters -- are in basements and require workers to have access to the interior.
The Water Department will leave postcards at properties with interior meters, prompting residents to call the city to make an appointment to have the meters worked on. It takes five to 10 minutes to replace each meter, Kline said.
The cost to update and replace all of the old meters is about $800,000, according to Kline. Residents will not be assessed a fee for the work.
The radio read meters will enable the Water Department to better manage the city's water system and provide better service to residents, Kline said. Workers reading the new meters can do so from up to a quarter of a mile away, making meter reading more efficient.
"Now we take up to four weeks to read the city manually. We can actually read the entire city in one day [with the new technology]," Kline said.
Readings from the new water meters also will be more accurate than the old meters, and the new meters will enable the Water Department to transition from a quarterly to a monthly billing cycle for customers, which Kline said is preferable for customers who like to budget their payments. "Every three months you have to come up with $150 to $200 to $300 to pay your water and sewer, where now it's going to be pretty averaged out every month. It's still the same dollar amount, but budgetwise I think it's going to be easier on a lot of folks," he said.
Another advantage of the radio read meters is the leak detection feature. Typically, a resident would first discover a leak in their water system when they receive a high water bill, but the new meters will detect leaks sooner before they get out of control.
Next year the city will begin upgrading the water meters on commercial properties as its budget allows.
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