Water meter replacement to begin soon

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Project expected to be completed by May 2012

Construction will start soon on the city’s $1.4 million water meter replacement project.

Patrick Leighty, of the city’s contracted engineering firm E.L. Robinson, said he expects the project to start sometime this week. The project is expected to be completed in May, Leighty said.

Mayor Rich Blankenship said the water meter replacement has been in the works for the past three and a half years.

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The project will eliminate the need for city workers to spend hours walking around the city reading meters by hand, Blankenship said.

“It will allow us to fix the numerous leaks in the city and make repairs,” he said. “It will free up employees to do that type of work. I think it will be beneficial.”

Blankenship said the project will be less intrusive than the recently completed sewer-relining project in that it won’t obstruct traffic.

City workers will continue to read meters by hand until the project is completed and training with the new program is done, Blankenship said.

In May, the Ironton City Council approved an ordinance that awarded a $1.1 million contract to Southern Ohio Trenching for the construction portion of the project. The other approximately $300,000 paid for design and preparatory work.

Council’s vote was five members for the project and two against.

The city received a 30 percent forgivable loan from the Ohio EPA to pay for a portion of the project. The other 70 percent of the project will be paid back through the city’s three metered fees: water, sewer and stormwater. The debt would be paid back over the next 30 years with 2 percent interest.

The council had debated the city’s ability to pay back the loan. The two opposing council members, Bob Cleary and Dave Frazer, had questioned whether or not the city would have to raise utility rates to pay for it. Blankenship said the city will not have to raise rates to pay for the project.

Finance Director Kristen Martin had said that in theory, the project should pay for itself with the increase in revenue that should come from a more accurate reading of water usage.

Hershey will manufacture the approximately 4,800 new automated meters. With the new meters, city workers will read them by driving by each house, instead of going door to door to read each meter.