Innisfail set for better water service
All 3,000 meter registers in town will be replaced
Tuesday, Sep 05, 2017 06:00 am
Frank Colosimo, the town’s director of operational services
INNISFAIL – The town is moving aggressively ahead with an ambitious $573,000 initiative to replace all 3,000 faulty water meter registers in the community with high-tech units designed to give citizens and businesses more peace of mind and greater control on usage.
The current registers, which were installed in town from 2010 to 2012 and measure and display water consumption flowing through the meter, were supposed to have a lifespan of between 12 and 15 years, but failures were occurring in the third year, said Frank Colosimo, the town’s director of operational services.
In a report to council at its regular meeting on Aug. 28, Colosimo said the register failures, which caused the display to go blank, were due to faulty batteries from an engineering error, and that all units would cease to function over the next few years.
While the supplier, Master Meter Canada (MMC), was willing to honour the warranty and replace all faulty registers, the town opted to get the next generation of fully automated registers, which will measure water consumption by the hour as opposed to just monthly with the current unit.
“I am sure there is even more high technology out there. This is the most reasonable high technology for our community,” said Colosimo, whose report to council noted MMC gave the town a credit equal to the value of the replacement registers for its decision to move to next generation technology.
He said the most important benefit home and business owners will get from the new registers and technology is that once they are fully installed, citizens will be able to sign up online and look at their historical consumption, as well as what their projected usage will be to the end of the month, if they still consume with current habits.
“We are putting the power back to the customer to decide upon what type of water habits he or she wants to have as it relates to their bill,” said Colosimo. “If they feel they are paying too much for their bill they now have the power to see how they are consuming on an hour-by-hour basis and they can go and determine how to adjust their habits. Citizens will have the ability to be notified of potential leaks, thefts or anomalies.”
As well, the new registers will come with real time alerts that will notify home and business owners of suspicious water usage.
“If you go away on vacation you can set it online to say ‘I am gone for this period’ and if there is flow going through your meter it will alert you,” said Colosimo. “It can send you a text message that will say, ‘you have water flowing in your house.’”
Colosimo emphasized the current water meter registers had no connection to some citizen complaints in recent years of unreasonably high water bills, and that all consumption readings were accurate.
“No, this does not have any relation to that. The meters had been tested. They all came back as being accurate in their measurements,” said Colosimo. “It’s just the transmission and the display of what the consumption was that was going blank.”
Following final negotiations with MMC earlier this year council approved the two-phase register upgrade on June 12 and July 24.
The replacement program will cost just over $573,000, with more than $485,000 budgeted for meter register replacement and another $88,000 expenditure for the installation of a fixed area network, implementing a customer service engagement bundle and covering training costs.
“There will not be any increases to the tax as a result of the replacement of registers, nor will there be any change to the utility rate,” said Colosimo, noting the $573,000 replacement cost is coming out of the town’s water reserve account.
He said the register replacement program should begin in October and be completed by mid-spring of 2018. In the meantime, the town will be sending out notices to all town addresses about its register replacement program, as part of the program’s communication strategy, early this month.