Granite Shoals to replace water meters with ‘smart’ models

JENNIFER FIERRO • PICAYUNE STAFF

GRANITE SHOALS — After a two-year study, the Granite Shoals City Council approved purchasing 2,300 smart water meters to replace current meters.

Installation will begin July 9. The total cost is $560,000, though City Manager Ken Nickel said residents won’t be burdened with paying extra for the change. Instead, the city will absorb the expenses.

“We’re getting more accurate readings (with the smart meters),” he said. “People who’ve done it before say the accuracy will cover the cost of the meters.”

The current water meters require city staff to go home to home to read the meters, write down the numbers, input them in the system and then bill citizens. In addition, some meters are in accessible places, while others force staff to go into backyards and other places on a property to get the readings.

“We’d spend two to two and a half weeks walking up and down streets reading meters,” Nickel said.

So during the past several months, about 30 smart meters were used in a pilot program that allowed staff members to study accuracy, ease of use and functionality.

The result, Nickel said, was very encouraging, especially in giving data to the consumer.

“Our water system will send you exactly what you used by the hour and can tell you the spike usage, if there’s a break in the line,” he said. “It shows flow and sends us a message saying, ‘go check this.’ It checks it quickly. Usually, we’ll be told about a possible break days later (using the older meters), sometimes by a neighbor after everything is flooded.”

Staff will be able to get meter readings in about 10 percent of the time it took using the old meters.  Instead of having to physically check the meters, staff can read the meters via a computer and a radio frequency. And it’s possible that antennas will send those readings directly to city hall.

“I feel pretty good with the plan and investigation of it,” Nickel said.

During the June 23 meeting, the council also:

• scheduled open meetings training with committee members at 6 p.m. June 30 at the council chambers, 2221 N. Phillips Ranch Road. Later, Mayor Carl Brugger invites citizens to a Meet With Mayor gathering that starts at 7:30 p.m. after the training session has concluded. Brugger and Nickel will be available to answer questions in a more relaxed environment. “The mayor is newly elected,” Nickel said. “People will get a chance to ask questions and what the plans are for the next two years. It gives the citizen the opportunity to ask not in a formal setting. We’ll have lemonade and cookies. I think we’ll sit with them and answer what we can.”

• was told milfoil plant treatments in the city concluded June 7. Nickel said the Lower Colorado River Authority representatives informed him June 24 that “Marble Falls and Granite Shoals seem not to have a lot of milfoil, which is a good thing. They’re still in discussions with Horseshoe Bay and Wilderness Cove. We’re not going to have another treatment. I feel very fortunate.”

• was told Kingscircle Drive will be repaired instead of East Granitecastle Drive, which was recommended by the city’s Streets Advisory group. “We found another area that needed more repairs than the ones we selected originally,” Nickel said. “We’ll do chip seal on it.” Crews are currently patching Phillips Ranch Road, the city manager said, as staff members and the council explore options to redo the street in the future. Prairie Creek Road, Mockingbird, Kingswood Drive and Hummingbird will be repaved in September.

• approved the appointment of resident Diana Marchalar to the Parks Committee.

jfierro@thepicayune.com

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