D'Iberville: Water under billing costs $500,000 a year - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

D'Iberville: Water under billing costs $500,000 a year

By Danielle Thomas – bio | email

D'IBERVILLE, MS (WLOX) - Each year, D'Iberville's outdated water meter system sends hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue down the drain. According to city officials, the meters are under billing customers for water. So D'Iberville is looking for funding to switch to new technology.

Right now, the public works department is using two different water meter systems. The old meters require workers walk over, lift the lids, and check meters individually. Then there is the new system.

"We just purchased 500 electronic meters, plus another 100 for the Promenade project," said Public Works Superintendent Thomas Burrows.  "Just with a truck driving by with a computer inside of it, an antenna on top of the truck [can] read all those meters quite fast."

Burrows said if every home and business customer had an electronic meter, water usage could be determined quickly, therefore, freeing up workers for other jobs.

"We're in the process of trying to purchase some more meters," Burrows said. "Once we get the whole city done, it will take a day to read it. Otherwise it takes three weeks to read it with two guys."

Officials said the new system would have antennas placed throughout the city. It would read meters four times a day, then transfer the information to a central computer system.

"I think the public is going to be saving money, because we'll be able to identify water leaks at their houses, and they will save water actually. That will be more money in their pocket," Burrows said.

Another reason the upgrade is needed is because a recent study found the old system is costing D'Iberville money.

"We found that approximately 20 percent of our water is not being adequately billed for," City Manager Michael Janus said. "That could be a potential loss of up to half a million dollars a year."

"Certainly cities, just like families, in these tough economic times, we found that we need to be more efficient in the way we deliver our services. Putting in electronic water meters, we found that we can overcome this estimated loss."

Janus said the city is looking into loans or grants to pay the $1.5 million it would take to put all customers on the new water meters. He said the city believes the system would pay for itself in three years.

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