In its ongoing effort to solve its citywide water meters problem, Mountain City Council hosted a representative from Consolidated Pipe for Master Meter, a regional distributor.
The presentation used up a considerable amount of time discussing the advantages for the city of purchasing water meters named Allegro distributed by Consolidated. The new meters, a sample pair of which was handed to City Mayor Jerry Jordan and the four Aldermen present, contain no wires, no antennas, and are completely sealed in a glass encasing. The meter can be read by means of a drive-by at each home or remotely, where the data is sent to a server.
Consolidated has informed the council that its vision for Mountain City is to have the option to utilize the traditional drive-by-reading method for each home or the remote way of sending a signal to a server for reading, which would essentially eliminate the need for an in-person meter read. "The meters are designed not only for ease of customer use but are hoped to reduce manpower," officials said.
The upgraded meters offered by Consolidate have the added benefit of a customer portal. After downloading a special application to a smartphone, users can access their personal water consumption and history. However, using the remote reading method infrastructure in the form of towers and a receiver is needed, which could place a significant financial burden on the city’s budget.
Alderman Dustin Sheerin addressed the money aspect of adding the base station when he asked, “How much does the infrastructure cost?”
Consolidated said the cost of a base station is approximately $50,000. Each repeater to relay the signal costs between $5,000 and $6,000, but the company rep reminded the council that the city does have the option just to read the meters as it has been, driving by each home for some years, then put up a tower later.”
While all these upgrades may sound appealing, the new meters themselves are cost prohibitive. The town of Mountain City currently has nearly 4,000 water meters used to evaluate water usage for residents. City Attorney George Wright asked how much each water meter costs and was informed that each meter is priced between $200-$250.
The current water meters were purchased in 2002, and the one hundred percent warranty has expired. Alderman Jason Bryan addressed the warranty of the Allegro meters when he asked, “What is the life expectancy?”
While the warranty on the Allegro meter is 20 years, the rep mentioned the warranty did not cover “an act of God.” This brought a plethora of questions from council members, wondering what that exactly meant. Consolidated ensured the council that "we don’t just sell the system and leave it. We service it, and we want the consumer to be happy and choose us again.”
While it remains to be seen which water meters will be chosen to replace the current system, everyone in attendance at the recent city council meeting was given plenty of information on the Allegro model.
But some in attendance would appreciate hearing a pitch from another competitor. “I think we should hear a presentation from the maker of our current meters,” said Chris Hook, Superintendent of Collection and Distribution.
For more information, www.mountaincitytn.org.