Berlin Approves $754K Bid For Smart Water Meters

Berlin Approves $754K Bid For Smart Water Meters

BERLIN – Town officials agreed to spend more than $750,000 to purchase smart water meters.

The Berlin Town Council on Monday approved a bid for $754,990 from Core and Main for smart meters. The meters were recommended after a water and wastewater analysis last fall revealed that non-revenue water—water that is produced and treated but not billed for—accounted for close to 25% of the town’s production.

“The 20-25% of water that’s been not being billed for by the town in the past is going to go away,” said Josh Taylor of Davis, Bowen & Friedel. “You’ll have very accurate meter readings for years to come.”

A study by the Southeast Rural Community Assistance Project (SERCAP) last year revealed that the town was losing about $200,000 a year in water revenue because the town’s meters didn’t read accurately enough.

“We worked with the town over the past several months figuring out what kind of system the town wanted,” Taylor said. “We wanted a system that would last a long time, not just in regards to the meters and their quality but also with regard to software programming, usability, expandability.”

The town received five proposals, ranging from $672,000 to $1.2 million, for the meters. Taylor said Davis, Bowen & Friedel recommended moving forward with the Core and Main proposal. He said the meters from the company were American made and had a lifetime warranty. He also talked to other municipalities that had the meters.

“I continuously heard positive things about their service,” Taylor said.

Jamey Latchum, the town’s stormwater and wastewater superintendent, pointed out that accurate water readings would have a positive impact on wastewater operations as well.

“All your sewer’s billed off your water (use),” he said.

Latchum said once the meters had been installed he’d return to the council with a resolution to change the rate structure, as customers are currently billed per thousand gallons and the new meters will be measuring down to the gallon.

“Bottom line, the Berlin customer will be receiving a more accurate bill,” Councilman Dean Burrell said.

Latchum said the new meters would also help homeowners identify leaks sooner. He referenced a recent leak at a home on Main Street that left the homeowner paying for 36,000 gallons of water.

“It ran for 30 days before he realized it,” Latchum said.

The council voted 4-0 to move forward with the $754,990 purchase, which is being paid for with American Rescue Plan Act funds. Staff noted this was equipment procurement only and did not include installation costs.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.