Urbana to start $2.9M automated water meter project at end of month

Urbana will start a $2.9 million automated water meter project at the end of this month. Bill Lackey / Staff
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Urbana will start a $2.9 million automated water meter project at the end of this month. Bill Lackey / Staff

New system to determine monthly usage without readings.

Urbana’s $2.9 million Automated Meter Infrastructure and Meter Replacementproject will be starting at the end of July, according to a release from the city.

“The project, which uses the latest technology to determine water usage without sending an individual out to read and then record a resident’s monthly usage, eliminates the need for ‘estimated’ readings due to accessibility, or weather-related conditions,” the release said.

This project will be funded through an Ohio Water Development Authority loan with a 20-year term at 1.28% fixed interest. The program will start immediately after installation, which is expected to last six months withcompletion by the end of the year, Operations Coordinator Debra Aksenczuk said.

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The project replaces an estimated 5,000 water meters including household, commercial and industrial accounts, the release said. EJP, who will manage the project, will install collectors and receivers on the city’s water towers and at the Municipal Building. The installation of the water meters will be done by Professional Meters Inc., a subcontractor of EJP.

According to the release, the city weighed many advantages of the project, which was formed after years of research and investigation, such as allowing the Utility Billing Office remote access for immediate information on how and when usage occurred; early detection of over usage due to leaks, failed or improperly installed plumbing systems, or unintended usage; and cost savings as a result of eliminating the task of monthly scheduled travel to each owner’s address.

“The discussion about a water meter replacement project has been ongoing for some time ... the city received bids from six different contractors,” Water Superintendent Joe Sampson said during a council meeting.

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As a result of this new program, there will be no layoffs and the current staff will be redirected to different functions within the Water Division, Aksenczuk said.

City officials said how much the new project will save the city is not yet known, but “all numbers currently indicate a self-supportive system.”

“With the age of our present system as compared to the efficiency of our new system, we expect a savings that will be further calculated once the (new system) is in place,” Aksenczuk said.

PMI is mailing postcards to customers, informing them of the project and asking them to schedule an appointment by calling 866-584-3846 or at www.schedulemymeter.com.

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