Town of Sylvan Lake to replace old water meters to streamline monthly billing

Town Council also approved replacing old water meters to the current technology

The Town of Sylvan Lake wants to streamline water billing for residents with new water meters and hiring a full time meter reader.

Currently, the Town has one meter reader and sendss out the water bills on an actual versus estimate bases, where one month is the actual cost and the next month is an estimate.

READ MORE: Sylvan Lake woman frustrated with estimate vs actual water bill

Kevin Gannon, environmental services manager with the Town of Sylvan Lake, says estimate billing every other month is a challenge with the number of seasonal dwellings and rental properties in Sylvan Lake.

“Removing estimates allows our customers to better manage their water consumption and identify potential water loss earlier therefor reducing water wastage and costs to both the customer and the Town,” Gannon said.

With one meter reader employed by the Town, it takes roughly two and a half weeks to get readings from half of the town.

The meter reader currently captures the reading for half the town one month, and the following month works on the other half.

Hiring a new meter reader comes with a price tag of $100,000 per year.

Along with hiring new staff, Council approved the purchase and installation of new water meters.

“Having all the meters changed to the current technology will allow the utilities department to read meters monthly and will eliminate the need for estimates, provide a better ability for staff and the town’s customers to monitor and manage their water consumption, identify abnormal flow, and employ a more efficient early detection system,” the report to Council states.

Gannon also stated the new meters will add extra safety for staff. He says the new meters make it easier and more efficient to obtain readings and can be done from a distance.

That means meter readers will not be required to go out in potentially dangerous weather, such as snaps of extreme cold or potentially slip on icy sidewalks.

Council’s motion approved replacing 250 water meters, complete with software, for 2019 at a cost of $200,000.

Moving forward, 500 meters are planned to be replaced every year for the next five years, costing approximately $300,000 each year.

“… Once all the meters are replaced and are upgraded to continuous read system the requirement for the meter reading will be reduced,” the report says.

Council approved the costs of hiring a new meter reader and replacing the water meters over the next five years at the May 13 meeting of Council.

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