Work on installing new state-of-the-art water meters in Washington got under way this week.

Kevin Quaethem, the city’s water/wastewater superintendent, said the meter replacement program was set to begin Monday but was delayed by the rainy weather. Workers with Pedal Valves Inc. (PVI) were heading out Tuesday morning to begin installing new meters in homes and businesses, he said.

Residents Need to Call City

The initial plan was for the company to call or contact each property owner to set up a time for the replacement work.

Now, however, Quaethem is urging all residents to call 390-1045 to make sure the city has their correct phone number on file in order to arrange an appointment for meter replacement. If no one answers, residents are asked to leave their contact information on a recording.

“We found that not all of our contact information was up to date,” Quaethem said. “Pedal Valve was attempting to contact everyone by phone but we don’t have all that information in the city’s system.”

He noted that in some instances, PVI workers will knock on doors to contact residents. If no one is home they will leave a door hanger with contact information. Another phone number to call for information is 636-221-9074. Quaethem said callers should get a “live person” on the line between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

New meters will be installed in homes and businesses in order of the previous meter reading cycle.

In other words, if a person’s meter was last read in April, the new meter will be installed in May, Quaethem explained.

Residents can look at their current water bill if it states an actual reading, not an estimate, then they will be the next contacted for meter replacement, he said.

The city’s current practice is to read meters once every three months. Amounts of water use are estimated for the other two months.

In early April, PVI workers installed the new meters at 10 locations in order to test the wireless automatic reading system before starting the full installation process.

Meters will be installed in the same order in which meter readings are taken currently.

Installations will be scheduled between 8 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays.

Quaethem said customers should expect less than 30 minutes of interruption to their water service during the installation process.

At each installation appointment, a PVI crew member will install the inside meter and outside reading device.

PVI installers will be wearing a teal-colored shirt that reads “Siemens/PVI Meter Team” and their vehicles will be marked with the Siemens/PVI logo.

The new system, being installed at a cost of about $4.6 million, will provide more efficient meters capable of giving readings every hour and can be used to notify customers if they are using more water than normal, which could indicate a leak in a pipe.

Quaethem stressed that’s another reason for all residents to provide up-to-date contact information to the city, so that staff can contact them if the new system detects a leaky water line.

After the installation, residents will be charged for their actual monthly usage of water. Currently, actual meter readings are taken every three months. The other months are based on estimates.

Quaethem warned customers that the actual readings could cause their water bills to increase or decrease but said any increase would be slight.

The program involves installing approximately 6,700 new residential and commercial iPERL water meters throughout town. The project is expected to be completed by mid-September.

The project is being financed under a lease agreement with a group of local banks. The lease will be retired over a 15-year period, but the city has the option to pay off the lease early without any penalty.