At their Aug. 14 meeting, the Troutman Town Board authorized the expenditure of $812,000 to improve the efficiency of the town’s water system, including the replacement of nearly all of the town’s aging water meters with new radio-operated instruments. The project will be funded by a zero-interest loan from the state’s Clean Water Revolving Fund.
The town has 1,600 water meters, and approximately 610 of the oldest, both residential and commercial, will be replaced throughout the town according to Town Manager Ann Bailie.
“A significant number of the older meters require our workers to touch the meter with a hand-held device to download data,” said Bailie. “We plan to replace most of these with new drive-by meters.”
With the radio-controlled meters, town employees do not usually have to access a customer’s property because the meters are equipped with radio modules that transmit data. A vehicle equipped with a radio receiver travels through town and automatically downloads information from the meters. The data is then uploaded into the town’s billing system.
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Installation of the new meters will begin around January and will not require access to any homes or places of business.
The efficiency of the town’s water metering system has been a subject of considerable debate over the years. Several of the town's board’s former members alleged that the town was losing significant amounts of water due to the inefficiency and age of the meters. Bailie said that all meters meters slow down over time, so this is a valid concern. “The new meters will provide a much more accurate accounting of water usage.”
In addition to the new meters, the project calls for the replacement of 5,140 linear feet of 4-inch and 100 linear feet of vintage 1923 6-inch cast-iron pipe with 6-inch PVC water line in the Lytton Street/Goodman Road section of town.
In conjunction with these water-system efficiency projects, the town board also hired West Consultants of Morganton to provide technical services at a cost not to exceed $85,000. Their work will include design, surveying and permitting, project administration and construction inspections.
One water project that won’t be going forward is the installation of a water line on Apache Road. The town sent letters, which outlined the costs, to the 10 homeowners who would have been served by the line but received only four positive responses. With the cost of the line projected to be as much as $100,000, the town board concurred with the staff recommendation that the low response from the homeowners did not justify the project.