Never ending cycle of changing meters

By Geoff Lee

November 19, 2015 12:08 PM

The city of Lloydminster has begun a seemingly perpetual cycle of replacing outdated residential and commercial water meters with new smart-meter technology.
The 2015 replacement program is focused on switching out about 500 metres in the north end of the city that are approximately 20 years or older.
“Most suppliers of water meters recommend they be replaced at the 20 year interval,” said H20 guru Ken Urban, the city’s general manager of water services.
“So we have a lot of water meters that meet that criteria,” he said.
The city will also change high-use commercial water meters and place them on a shorter replacement time cycle.
The new smart meters should end potential errors in some old meters that don’t register water use properly.
“As they age they become less accurate, so they may be a few percentage points where they are not measuring the full amount of water,” said Urban.
“The new meters will be 100 percent accurate.”
There are no moving parts in the new smart meters that are powered by a 20 year battery and are installed outside homes and businesses.
The city actually started to install new meters three years ago.
They are Sensus brand meters that improve meter accuracy and provide additional information on water consumption.
“The smart meters give us better technology and they have leak detection capabilities,” said Urban.
“Also, it stores data for 30 days.”
If there is billing discrepancy the city can download hourly usage that could point to signs of a leaky toilet or faucet where water is running 24-hours a day.
“Eventually we will have infrastructure in place probably in a couple of years where customers can log into their account and see their data usage,” said Urban.
“Right now, it would be a manual download,” he said.
“We would have to go to the residence and manually download it and then we’d have to email to the customer.”
There is no charge for meters to be replaced with meters of the same size, but homeowners and businesses will have to foot the bill if any plumbing is required.
Most of the installations will take about 45 minutes to complete.
“It all depends on what kind of piping condition it’s in. There’s an isolation valve that, if it’s not working very well, might take a little longer,” said Urban.
Lloydminster customers with outdated water meters will receive a phone call during the day or evening from city officials to book a service appointment.
If residents or businesses can’t be reached by phone a notification will be delivered to the appropriate mailing address.
“It’s a perpetual program meters whenever they reach that 20 year age,” said Urban, who noted it’s also a compulsory program.
  The city will average about 500 meter replacements for a few years to get caught up then slow down to a range of 300-400 a year.
The City will accommodate customers who are not at home during regular business hours by providing flexible appointments during evenings and weekends.
The city thanks residents and businesses for their patience and cooperation as this important work is completed.
For more information please contact Rhonda Bain at 780-874-3700 ext. 2763 or rbain@lloydminster.ca.
Alternatively, inquires may be directed to Keith Rushton at 780-874-3700 ext. 2773 or krushton@lloydminster.ca.

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