City to replace 35,000 obsolete water meters – American Press
Lake Charles’s approximately 35,000 30-year-old water meters will be replaced with new automated meters over the next 16 to 18 months, after unanimous city council approval on Wednesday.
Mayor Nic Hunter said these new meters will provide customers with more accurate water bills and eliminate the need for meter readers. The meters will also relay data over the radio to quickly identify water leaks and reduce the amount of water wasted throughout the system, he said. Kevin Heise, the city’s director of utilities, said it would be the Gulf Coast’s “most advanced metering system”.
“We have to bring this city into modern times,” Hunter said. “This initiative is a real game-changer for this city. I think in five or 10 years we will look back and realize how important this was to our water system.
The city will enter into a cooperation agreement with Sustainability Partners, the company that will supply and install the new water meters. The effort will be primarily funded by the $ 2 million the city received from the American Rescue Plan Act.
Council members also approved charging households an additional $ 2-3 service charge on their monthly water bills to help pay for the effort. Hunter said those charges would not take effect until July 2023, after all water meters were installed. Businesses can be charged more, depending on the size of their water meters, he said.
City officials have discussed upgrading its water supply system over the past two years, Hunter said. However, the arrival ashore of Hurricane Laura in August 2020 and the winter storm of last February exposed the weaknesses of the system and pushed for faster action. If the city had updated its water supply system before the winter storm, it might have lacked sufficient water pressure for one to two days, instead of about five days, he said. declared.
After the winter storm, hundreds of city employees and contractors roamed the streets, trying to locate water leaks with their naked eyes, Hunter said. Heise said many homes with burst pipes were still unoccupied at the time due to damage from Hurricane Laura.
“With these new meters, a person at town hall could have an immediate impression of every house in town that has had a water leak,” Hunter said. “Those hundreds of employees could have been reduced and, within hours, they could have targeted these single-family homes, shut off the water and restore water pressure throughout the city.”
The inability of the city’s meter reading company to provide full staffing led to “estimated billing,” which caused frustration among residents about the amount of their water bill, Hunter said. Automated water meters will ensure reliable water bills for customers, he said.
Heise said the new water meters have a 30-year battery life. Council members also approved the extension of a water and sewer utility bill payment assistance program between the city and Catholic charities through June, or while supplies last. funds. The program benefits city patrons who have been affected by Hurricanes Laura and Delta, as well as the winter storm.
Later in the meeting, the board also approved a resolution supporting Hunter’s appointment of Delton Carter as the new Lake Charles Fire Chief. Carter replaces Keith Murray, who retired in November. Hunter said the process for hiring a new fire chief was thorough. Carter, a 22-year veteran with the firefighters, thanked the city and his family