Friday, May 27, 2022

Surf City upgrades water meters

Interactive meters to be installed over three months, little impact to residents

Surf City is replacing its 4,200 water meters with advanced technology to track water usage in real time. (Port City Daily/Amy Passaretti)

SURF CITY — The Town of Surf City is spending $2.1 million to replace its aging water meters with more advanced technology, allowing residents to track their water usage in real time.

The funding for the project is coming out of the town’s water and sewer account, which budgets for regular maintenance and repairs. There is no separate fee for customers, and the upgrade will not raise current water rates.

Over the next three months, global water technology company SUEZ will replace 4,200 water meters in the roughly 10-square-mile town, but the work should not impact residents. The whole process per location should take about 15 minutes and cause the residence to be without water for roughly five minutes.

According to the town website, crews will knock on doors, as a courtesy and request permission to work. If no one is home, they will begin work immediately on the outdoor water meter. There will be little-to-no impact on properties since the work is contained to the utility boxes. No boil advisory will be needed after the changeover.

“Over the summer we did a full survey of the town,” town manager Kyle Breuer said. “Basically, contractors went out and visited each meter in town to make sure they were accessible, there was no damage to the meter box or housing unit. This assures the contractor coming in can easily make the change.”

SUEZ was scheduled to begin Jan. 17 but is finishing up another project out-of-state, delaying its start by about a week. All meter replacements should be wrapped up by mid-April.

Water meters are typically replaced every decade, according to Breuer, as they become ineffective over time and could cause inaccurate readings. Surf City has not replaced its hardware in 16 years. The new meters will ensure 99.98% accurate readings.

The town currently has advanced meter reading and is upgrading to advanced metering infrastructure, an integrated system of smart meters equipped with technology that benefits both the town and its residents.

Right now, public utilities department employees physically drive around collecting data each month. Staff remain in their vehicles and the data is read via a transmitter. While it’s not as time-consuming as having to do manual reads on all meters, the upgraded technology will save time on labor. The smart meters will allow reading to be automatically uploaded and stored in a cloud drive, accessible to the town and customers — no on-site visits needed.

Residents can manage their services through an online portal and view and budget daily water usage. They can also set up alert notifications when they exceed their typical usage or irregular readings occur.

“It’s advanced leak protection,” Breuer explained. “If there is a leak in the house, a toilet running and the homeowner is unaware, they get billed for that usage. This allows them to address things early on as opposed to having a leak occur over multiple days.”

Breuer added this will be especially beneficial for residents who have second homes in the area and may not be around to notice daily issues or take preventative action.

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