City moving forward with audit for ‘smart’ water meter

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The Madisonville City Council gave the green light to Performance Services for an investment grade audit on potential savings by moving to an electronic system for reading water meters that would minimize waste and make the billing process more efficient.

This audit will determine if upgrading to a radio read meter system and electronic billing will deliver adequate savings and recaptured revenue to fund the service provided by the vendor. The study will be lead by Performance’s Texas team which includes three licensed professional engineers and undergo review by third parties.

The advantage of using this funding mechanism is that there is no impact on the city’s bond rating.

Under the current system, the city is experiencing serious under billing. In 2013, an estimated 22 percent of the water purchased by the city was lost before it reached any customer’s meter. In 2016, the water loss grew to 24 percent.

By using a state of the art system, customers and city staff will be provided information in real time – allowing water leaks to be addressed sooner. An electronic system would also give the city more protection against tampering.

City staff told the council that there are several difficult to collect accounts that only pay after utility workers turn off the water. As soon as the customers make payment, a city employee then has to stop what they’re doing and turn the service back on.

The feasibility study and audit is expected to take 60 days. If the study determines that project is not economically feasible, the city is still under no obligation to reimburse the vendor for the expenses incurred. But Performance Services representatives said they expect to achieve sizeable savings with water losses over 20 percent.

Public Works Director Kevin Story has been begging to go on radio read, City Manager Camilla Viator

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