BCC votes in favor of new water meter reading system

Published 10:50 pm Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Following an official public hearing Tuesday afternoon, the Brundidge City Council voted unanimously to submit an application to the Alabama Department of Environmental Management for funding through the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund for improvements to the city’s water system in the amount of $975,000.

Max Mobley, engineer with Polyengineering of Dothan, presented information to the council and attending citizens regarding the benefits of the proposed improvements to the city’s water system.

“The improvements would include radio-read meters that would eliminate the need for the manual reading of the meters,” Mobley said. “What is attractive about this is that the city-owned electrical system is compatible with the software and hardware that will be used for the radio-read meters.”

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Mobley said if the city later decided to install a similar meter reading system for its electrical system, it would be at a huge cost savings to the city.

Britt Thomas, city manager, said the cost of a meter reading system for the city’s electrical department is estimated at $300,000 bringing the total cost for both meter reading systems to nearly $1.3 million.

Mobley said there is a slight possibility that the city could receive “Green” money that has been set aside for such projects. If the city qualifies, it could receive principle forgiveness funds. However, that is not anything that the city should consider when making its decision.

In addition to the radio-reading meter advantage, the new meter reading system would include control valve improvements, which would levelize the water pressure throughout the city. Mobley said there is currently an imbalance in the city’s water system.

As an example, Mobley said that the elevation of the small water tank on College Street is not high enough to continually provide adequate water pressure.

“With the new meter reading system, the city could shut down that tank and utilize the tank on the north end of town and then make better use of the water tank at the Wal-Mart Distribution site,” he said.

The new water system would have controls that would alert the city if and when problems with the water tanks should arise.

“The system will have a positive environmental impact,” Mobley said.

During the question and answer session, Ted Harrison questioned what benefits the new system would have to the consumer.

Mobley said there would not be immediate savings to the consumer but there would ultimately be savings in that all meters would be new and accurate.

He said inaccurate meters are costly to the city because water that is being used is not metered.

“With this new system, the city is doing nothing for the consumer,” Harrison said. “Doing nothing to reduce our bills. Brundidge is not growing. We’re losing population and businesses and I don’t see borrowing a million dollars to keep two men from reading meters.”

Harrison asked how much the city would have to pay on the loan annually and how the money for the new water system would be paid back. Thomas said the city would be able to repay the 20-year loan at a rate of about $62,000 a year with the city’s cash flow.

Councilman Lawrence Bowden said that he understood Harrison’s concerns but also realized that the city is in an enviable position now because other councils had the foresight to spend funds to purchase the city’s electric system and wastewater treatment facility.

“That puts us in a position to be able to attract industries like the Wal-Mart DC, Supreme Oil and Southern Classic Foods,” Bowden said. “We have to keep the city in a position to move forward.”