Winchester sees rising water meter project costs


WINCHESTER — Winchester City Council has approved additional funding of $14,000 to cover the cost of a project to update the city’s water metering system.

Mayor Rex McIntire said the increased cost stemmed from miscommunication regarding some of the meters and their compatibility with the new system.

The project was originally estimated at $414,000 – before the additional $14,000.

“It’s a substantial amount,” McIntire said. “This is a project over $400,000, so the costs haven’t doubled.

The new system will reduce the hours needed to collect water use data, McIntire said. It now takes three or four employees several days to collect data as they travel each route, visually collect meter information, and manually calculate usage.

The new system will allow a more remote approach. Although the person collecting the data will still have to travel the route, they will not have to physically read the meter. The handsets will work with a receiver on the meters to collect the data once the handsets are within a certain radius of the meters.

“We have about 140 yards that are not compatible as we thought,” McIntire said. Each meter will cost around $100.

Many meters were being installed, but McIntire said the final meters were not expected to be installed until late July, although it would have to be delayed until early August to accommodate meter readings for the month.

The project is mainly financed by a loan contracted by the city.

To pay the loan, the council approved an increase in water rates several months ago; it went into effect this month, McIntire said.

“We knew we were going to have to raise rates, although we haven’t had a water rate increase for several years,” he said.

The average household uses about 4,000 gallons of water per month and will likely see an increase of about $4 per month.

“It’s an increase, but it’s not a substantial increase,” McIntire said.

Although the project will require additional funding, McIntire said it shouldn’t impact new rates.

“We’ll try to work with them to keep the raise minimal,” McIntire said.

McIntire still hopes to have everything installed by the fall, he said.

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