Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Lake View City Council members Monday night unanimously approved a contract for the first installation stage of automated water and electric meters for business and residential customers.

The replacements of 250 water and 250 electric meters should start within weeks as the council accepted a bid from Van Wert Inc. of Grundy Center for the purchase of the meters and a radio-reading device at a total cost of $60,790.

Peterson said there’s no mystery to the problem with existing meters. The city is just not able to accurately capture all of the use. Lake View City Administrator Scott Peterson said the 40 percent water loss rate — the difference between the treatment volume and meter-recorded use — should be far lower. A 20 percent loss is considered a goal, Peterson said.

“A lot of them are very much outdated,” Peterson said.

He added, “That is the main reason for why things were done now.”

The city has about 1,100 water meters and 1,400 electric meters. In coming years the city plans to replace all of the meters with automated ones. Peterson said the pace of the installs will depend on workload issues.

There are no problems with the current electric meters, but the city doesn’t want to continue to manually read the electric devices if the water meters are automated, Peterson said. Water and electric consumption data would be sent through radio transmission to the city.

“It’s just a better use of city staff time,” Peterson said, adding that no employees are expected to be let go or face cutbacks in hours as result of the change.

Currently, Lake View’s three electric utility and three water department personnel read meters once a month in a process that takes about a day and a half, Peterson said.

Lake View even has some meters that aren’t working at all, meaning the city water department has to estimate how much water is used based on the occupancy of a structure and other factors.