The Town of Eclectic Water Works and Sewer Board invested around $350,000 to purchase and eventually install 1,600 digital water meters for the system’s 1,600 customers.
Jennifer Lyle-Mattox, the department’s office manager who has worked for the department for 23 years, said digital water meters are the biggest change she has seen take place in the water delivery industry.
The new system will continually monitor water consumption in homes.
“In the event a customer has a water leak, the system will immediately notify water works,” Lyle-Mattox said. “If there was a leak last night at a house or business, when I come in the morning there will be a notification waiting for me.”
The department would then contact the customer. Lyle-Mattox said that notification could save water customers hundreds of dollars, immediately alerting them to water system leaks before a large cost spike is first seen in the next water billing cycle.
Eclectic Mayor Gary Davenport announced the project at the June 16 town council meeting.
“They do not have grants available for this update like they did years ago when this was first pushed out,” Davenport said. “We happen to be the last water system in Elmore County doing this update. The benefit to doing this now is the cost to the town is about half of what it used to be. When the town first looked at this it was around $680,000 10 years ago.”
Davenport said water customers will not see a rate hike to cover the cost of the project.
“We were fortunate enough that (Lyle-Mattox) has managed the water and sewer department in such a way that we were able to have money sat aside for a need,” he said. “The money is coming out of the water works budget. There is no cost increase to the customer.”
The new water meters are expected to improve the readings.
“The accuracy of our current water meters reads to 1/10 of a gallon,” he said. “The new system is much more accurate. It can read to 1/100 of a gallon and is dated and timed to the second. Everything is so precise.”
Lyle-Mattox said the town will also benefit from the upgrade.
“Right now, it takes us about four days to read all the meters,” she said. “This will take us about half a day to read all the meters.”
The digital meters send out a signal that is picked up via a phone app used by the person responsible for taking the readings.
“The person can drive by and the reading is picked up,” she said. “Also, we will go from four people doing the readings to one person.”
Davenport said doing the readings from public roads benefits land owners who have animals or fenced areas.
“When you are doing manual reads of readers you sometimes have to go on to the customer’s property,” he said. “That will all stop when these are installed. We will only be on public roads when we are reading the meters.”
The town will use a contractor to install the meters and expects the project will start the week of July 20.
“We expect 75 to 100 locations will be done each week and the work will continue until the town is done,” Davenport said.
Lyle-Mattox said customers located in the rural parts of the town’s service area such as Kent and up to the Tallassee city line will be the first to receive the digital meters.
“That area is more spread out so it takes longer for us to read that route,” she said. “Then we will gradually work our way back to town on the smaller routes that are easier to read.”