iPERL water meter

Washington’s Board of Public Works has recommended that the city take over the installation of the last 128 water meters on the water meter project.

Kevin Quaethem, water/wastewater superintendent, updated the board on the project and requested approval to forward the request to the city council.

Of the 128 meters, roughly 34 can still be installed. The rest are in homes that have been foreclosed or are otherwise inaccessible, Quaethem said.

When the homes are bought, the meters will be switched out.

The project encompassed the installation of 6,746 residential and commercial meters. The city contracted with Siemens Building Technologies and the firm’s installation partner, Pedal Valves, Inc. (PVI), to install the meters.

The city has set aside the 128 meters and 128 transmitters needed to complete the project. The value of the remaining inventory will be credited back to the city for the installation of the last meters.

“It breaks down to a little over $300 to install (each) meter,” Quaethem said, adding that the city can have the meters installed for a third of the cost.

“This is the easiest and most economical way to get the revenue back to the city without doing a lengthy change order,” he said. Quaethem said Siemens is in favor of the proposal.

Back Haul Problem

Quaethem said the city is working to resolve a back haul communications problem, which is the second phase of the project.

“Phase two is fine-tuning the back haul system and meter communication so there are no errors in reads to the towers, which all benefits customers in leak detection,” Quaethem said.

The meters transmit to the water tower, which transmits to the public safety system.

“The original back haul system we had set up became overloaded at about 5,000 meters,” he said. “It would still transmit, but wouldn’t transmit a whole batch of information at one time.”

The new system will be able to transmit a whole batch from the tower at one time, Quaethem said, adding that it was expected to be completed in the next couple of weeks.

The transmission problem is not affecting the reading rates, it’s just slowing it down, Quaethem said.

The meter supply company will come to Washington and analyze each area of town to make sure all meter information is reaching the tower in a timely manner. Once the supply company has finished, the project will be finalized.

The city has been billing using the new meters since November 2012.

According to a detail report summary, there was a 13 percent increase in revenues for the month of January, compared to 2012.

There was no discussion from the board of public works on the contract closeout. The request will move to city council for final approval.