City-wide water meter replacement project underway
The City of Richfield’s water meter replacement project kicked off on July 10. The project will see all the city’s existing water meters replaced with their modern equivalents.
“The city’s current water meters are reaching the end of their life expectancy and are needing replacement, so it was a perfect opportunity for the Public Works Department utilities staff to explore what other meters were out there and how they could benefit residents,” said Utilities Superintendent Russ Lupkes.
As the city’s homes age, their water meters age with them. City water meters were last replaced in 2006. Since then, better technology has become available to help both residents and cities better regulate water usage.
In all, 10,315 residential meters and 543 commercial meters will be replaced in Richfield.
The new meters gauge water usage electromagnetically, compared to their outgoing mechanical counterparts. Typically, the reason for water meter failure in Richfield has been mechanical issues or failure of the internal battery.
“With the new meters and WaterSmart technology, residents can monitor their water usage,” explained Utilities Supervisor Fawn Kinsman. “When residents have leaks, they will be able to see that their water usage is rising without having to wait to get their quarterly water bill in the mail, making it easier to find and fix the leak before it gets out of hand.”
Additionally, the old water meters broadcast a signal with the residents’ water consumption totals every fifteen seconds, which was unnecessary because the data was only needed by utilities staff intermittently. The new meters only send out a signal when the staff needs to collect a meter reading.
Sensus meters were chosen for the replacement project because the city’s utilities staff found them to have the highest accuracy and battery life when compared to other models.
Prior to replacement, residents will receive a letter and postcard from the city’s contractor, Vanguard Utility Service, detailing how to set up an appointment to have one of their professionals install the new meter.
Over the past six months, as old meters have increasingly begun to fail and need replacement, Richfield utility staff have been installing new meters themselves. Utility staff has replaced more than 800 water meters throughout Richfield and feedback from residents has been overwhelmingly positive.
“I did not know what to expect when I needed my water meter replaced,” acknowledged Richfield resident Jennifer Anderson. “However, the entire process was fast and painless. The utilities professionals were in and out of my house in less than twenty minutes and everything works great.”
This program is also the start of a shift towards the rollout of WaterSmart technology, which is a forthcoming online system that will allow residents to log in and track their water usage at any time. Overall, the implementation of WaterSmart technology in Richfield will take some time, and these new meters are the first step in that direction
Residents will incur no additional charges or fees when they have their new meter installed and their water bills will still be received quarterly. However, the new system will flag accounts monthly that appear to have issues like a leak or meter malfunction. If residents would like to learn more about their consumption, city staff will be able to provide them further data to allow them to modify their water use and ultimately save money.
For more information, visit http://www.richfieldmn.gov/departments/public-works/utilities/water-meters-replacement.