The town of Hayden recently was awarded a $164,400 grant to replace more than 600 water meters in town.
The Energy and Mineral Impact Assistance Program awarded the town the grant for the full amount requested. The town wants to upgrade its water meters because it is losing about 25 percent of its treated water through old pipes and inaccurate water meters and, therefore, losing revenue.
"This will help us get to a point where we can better find where our water loss is," Hayden Town Manager Russ Martin said. "With all the system improvements, this is a key phase in getting our water system solvent.
"I explained that to (the Energy and Mineral Impact State Advisory Board) that this is more important and more needed than the waterline replacement because it speaks to our ability to provide revenue needed to operate the system and build capital to make necessary improvements on our own if we need to in the future. That way, we could use grant money for things other than improving our water system."
The $164,400 will help meet the $235,000 price tag of replacing the water meters with high-tech radio-read meters this summer. The radio-read meters will be more accurate, and water usage could be monitored by remote control.
Cathy Shipley, regional field manager with the Department of Local Affairs' Energy Impact program, said that because such a high percentage of Hayden residents work in the energy-production industry, the town always is a very good candidate for Energy Impact grants.
However, proving that the water meter replacement is part of a larger, organized plan to make Hayden's water funds solvent and provide quality water to the town's residents probably helped seal the deal with the State Advisory Board, Shipley said.
"We look at goals, plans and other projects that have been successfully completed in the past," Shipley said. "Those are important."
Shipley said that, like many towns, Hayden could have received a percentage of the money through a grant and the other through a loan. Because Hayden has capital debts greater than the state average and recently incurred more debt through the vast improvements to its water treatment facility, "It didn't seem appropriate to give Hayden another loan," Shipley said. "That could have weighed heavily with the committee."
Next, the town will advertise for bids on the project. No dates have been set.
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