Cost may determine fate of Syracuse water-meter plan

Dec 20 2012 - 10:14pm


SYRACUSE -- City Finance Director Stephen Marshall recently suggested that city leaders consider switching to a new electronic system to read water meters because no time is better than the present.

At a recent work session, Marshall outlined potential costs and implications of switching to a radio meter system for culinary water use, which could save money and conserve water for city residents.

By addressing the issue now, Marshall said, any new developments would be required to have the meters built in, spreading the cost to the developer rather than to the city.

Marshall said the potential setup costs for the system are its biggest drawback. He suggested a new meter system could cost as much as $75 to $120 per household, plus an additional $125,000 in software costs.

One potential system would feed the information to a central location electronically rather than require a meter reader to go house to house gathering that information.

Under the city's current setup, a meter reader is used six months of the year, and the other six months the billsare based on an average and then adjusted when the meters are again read, Marshall said.

After some discussion, city leaders were urged to look at other communities and what their costs had been in converting to the system.

"The biggest elephant in the room obviously is the cost. It's a pretty significant upfront cost," Marshall said.

Councilman Doug Peterson said the issue of meters and a better handle on culinary water is something the council should consider.

"Straight up, it would be nice to have. As a council looking to the future, I think it's one of those things we need to consider. Water is gold," Peterson said.

Councilman Brian Duncan said he would like to see the issue raised in the city newsletter so city leaders can get feedback from residents.

From Around the Web