Seligman hopes new meters save time, money

Wednesday, September 3, 2014
Brian Nichols, left, Seligman city clerk, and Ken Wethington, a crew leader for RG3 Meter Company, look at a water meter on Blockade Village in Seligman. RG3 will install 640 new meters in the city, hoping to help cut down on water losses. Jason Johnston

Water meters to provide better readings, may find leaks

Longview, Texas-based RG3 Meter County is installing a $14,000 pilot program in Seligman to help the city improve its water meter reading capabilities.

"We're doing a pilot program for the city to see if they want to buy the rest of the meters to install throughout the whole town," said Ken Wethington, a crew leader for RG3, who installed the 25 meters that Seligman bought for the program. "It's a radio frequency, drive-by system, so they won't have to physically get out and look at the meter any more to read it.

"They'll just drive by, and they'll have a laptop with a transceiver connected to an antenna. That's going to pick up the reading from the antenna that's on the meter and transmit it to the program that's on the laptop, giving them the reading."

After the city's 640 water meters get replaced, one employee could read the meters in about two hours, said Brian Nichols, Seligman city clerk.

"I'll actually be piloting the program," he said. "I'll get it all set up myself, and then I will train the other guys. Right now, I don't want to take them away from anything they have going on."

Jerry Montgomery, Seligman mayor, said it's going to save the city time and money.

"[City crews] can then use their time more wisely for other things, rather than riding through town a dozen times reading meters," he said.

The life expectancy of a meter is about 8 to 10 years, said Nichols, who has seen meters in the city that are between 12 and 20 years old.

"The whole thought of the water meters is we're curious to see what kind of water loss we wind up with," he said.

The new meters are more sensitive and could show people if they have leaks, Nichols said.

The city's water losses were 1.7 million gallons between Nov. 15, 2013, and Dec. 15, 2013, and 663,000 gallons between June 15 and July 15. The efficiency increased after city crews tracked down water leaks and repaired them.

The leaks occurred after frozen pipes started to thaw, causing holes in the pipes, Nichols said.

Seligman is looking to Springfield-based Olsson Associates to update the city's water system analysis, which was last completed in 2007. Olsson will map out all the lines and inform the city where it should replace and upgrade lines. The analysis will start in 2015.

The costs for the analysis are unknown, but Nichols said he thought the costs were about $11,000 in 2007. The city is seeking a state grant from the Department of National Resources to fund the analysis.

Seligman has three wells, and the city pumps its own water. The city pumps just under 3 million gallons during each winter month and about 4 million gallons a month the rest of the year.

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