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Brooksville is replacing mechanical water meters with digital devices

BROOKSVILLE — At a time when everyone is watching their budgets, Brooksville's latest nod to modern technology is expected to bring significant savings to both the city and its water customers.

This week, the city's public works department began replacing its aging mechanical-style water meters with new digital devices that can be read via radio signal. About 4,300 residential and 300 commercial water customers will receive the new meters over the next three months.

Public Works Director Richard Radasky said an audit conducted last year by Energy Systems Group found that age and wear had made many of the old meters inaccurate in calculating water usage. The new battery-powered meters will help the city recover revenue that it has lost due to inaccurate readings.

Radacky said many water customers will see benefits as well.

"It's certainly going to be more fair," Radacky said. "If you had a meter that ran fast, you were getting billed for water you didn't use. If it ran slow, that meant the city was losing money."

In its audit, ESG, estimated the city could recover about $274,000 annually in water charges.

According to Radacky, monthly customer water usage will be transmitted to receivers mounted inside Brooksville's garbage trucks, which will record the data as the trucks make their regular rounds. That brings the city an additional benefit because an employee will no longer be required to individually read the meters.

Radacky said that while public works employees will be installing some of the new meters and upgrading about 500 others in Southern Hills Plantation, the city has contracted RTS Water Solutions to oversee some of the installations.

While homeowners will not be affected by the installation of the new meters, Radacky said state Department of Environmental Protection requires that facilities such as restaurants, schools and nursing facilities that need to have their water shut off for the installation will be issued a temporary "boil-water" notice until sufficient testing for water-borne organisms can be completed.

Radacky said he and staffers want to impact such businesses as little as possible. "Our goal is to make the whole operation go smoothly from start to finish," he said.

Upgrading the city's water meters to an automated reading system is part of a $3.3 million initiative to upgrade city systems and make them greener and more cost effective.

Other projects slated to start soon include replacing the 34-year-old air conditioning unit at City Hall with a more energy efficient system and installing LED-style lighting at the city's walking trails.

City Manager Jennene Norman-Vacha said the new meters, which are being paid for out of the city's enterprise fund, will pay for themselves over time.

"At this point, we're looking to shave costs wherever possible," Norman-Vacha said. "It's nice to be able to point to something that will give the taxpayers immediate benefits, as well as additional ones in the future."

Those wanting more information on the radio-read water meters are encouraged to call (352) 540-3810 or (352) 540-3860.

Logan Neill can be reached at (352) 848-1435 or lneill@sptimes.com.

How it works

New digital devices that can be read via radio signal are being installed for about 4,300 residential and 300 commercial water customers.

A public works employee will no longer be required to read the meters individually.

Instead, monthly customer water use will be transmitted to receivers mounted inside Brooksville's garbage trucks.

The data will be recorded as the trucks make their regular rounds.

Brooksville is replacing mechanical water meters with digital devices 08/03/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 3, 2011 8:17pm]
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