Council approves $125,00 to start water meter program

By Curtis Riggs | August 13, 2008

Going with automatic meter reader system
CAREFREE – Town officials last week approved spending $125,000 for equipment needed for automatic water meter reading. Carefree Water Company personnel will soon begin changing the heads of water meters in the Carefree Highlands, the Carefree Rolling Hills subdivision and around SkyRanch Airport, the goal being to begin reading the meters automatically by the end of the year.

Water Company General Manager Stan Francom explained going with an automatic reader system will save paying water company personnel to read meters. It now takes four employees three days to read the 1,780 meters in use. He said one employee could do the job in a morning with a new automatic reader program.

The plan is to first begin replacing the meter heads, and the entire meter in some cases, in the east side of the water company's service area because that is where the meters are most difficult to read. Francom said the 1,000 foot distance between meters in the Carefree Highlands poses the most problems for meter readers.

The water company will continue its policy of replacing the entire water meter if it is over seven years old.

It will cost $129 per meter head for a replacement with a radio transponder in it. The cost to replace an entire water meter will be around $172.50.

"Studies show that after seven years meters lose their accuracy and need to be replaced," Francom said.

He pressed the water company board of directors (Carefree Town Council) to allocate the $125,000 because the cost of the Badger Orion automatic meter readers will go up next month.

"It will save us between $6,000 and $9,000," he said about making the purchase now.
There are 560 water meters in the three areas in the meter change-out pilot program.

Francom stated Water Company personnel will have to examine each meter to determine if just the meter head or the entire meter needs to be replaced.

Francom pointed out that 80 percent of the water meters have already been changed in the past eight years because the Water Company replaces 10 percent of the meters annually.