City of Vandalia begins multi-year water meter replacement project

Vandalia residents will soon be able to more closely monitor their monthly household water usage thanks to a citywide initiative to replace aging meters with updated ultrasonic flow meters.

The upgrade project will include the replacement of 5,700 water meters, at an overall purchase cost of around $2.5 million. The equipment will be purchased and installed in multiple phases over about 5 years.

City officials say the upgrades are needed as current water meters, installed in 2008, are aging and beginning to fail.

“They had a life expectancy of 10 to 12 years, and we’re beyond that time, so we’re starting to see increasing failure in reading capability,” City Manager Dan Wendt said in a council meeting late last year.

The city’s current infrastructure operates using radio meters and transmitters which allow utility workers to receive water meter readings wirelessly without needing to physically access the meter.

“You can drive by the house and it remotely sends a signal to the utility van as it’s passing by, which saves a lot of man hours,” said city spokesman Rich Hopkins.

The new ultrasonic water meters will eliminate the need to be in the vicinity of the meter itself, further saving employee time, city vehicle mileage and fuel consumption, and offering more accurate billing.

“These use cellular technology which will send meter data to our utility department with water usage in real time,” Hopkins said. “These are a lot more accurate and it’s a lot easier because now we will passively get that information from these meters.”

The new meter system will also allow residents to access their home’s water usage data in real time via the EyeOnWater app by phone or tablet.

“This new system will read meters four times a day and send a digital signal to software, advising the city and residents of potential leaks,” Wendt said. “Currently, a leak will sometimes run for an entire month before it is detected. This proposal will save money for residents and improve customer service.”

The app will also allow for online billing and payment for residents.

“The bottom line is you know exactly how much water you’re using and there’s no surprise when the bill comes at the end of the month,” Hopkins said.

All meter installation and set-up is being completed by city of Vandalia utility workers, which officials said will significantly cut back on costs. The new meters have an anticipated battery life of 20 years.

“Through using our in-house guys, we’re going to save over $800,000 in installation costs,” Hopkins said.

Meter replacement began this year but it could be a year or more before all residences are reached.

“We’re first, obviously, targeting those meters that no longer work and replacing those,” Hopkins said. “This is a multi-year project and we think it will take about 3 to 5 years, but at the end of that time, our residents will have a much better way of managing their accounts.”

The city of Miamisburg invested nearly $4 million into an advanced metering infrastructure project last year, and Tipp City officials are considering a similar system upgrade.

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