Steamboat Springs Steamboat’s water meter system is going wireless.
Next month, the city will start a $1 million project to replace all of its 3,200 water meters with new meters able to transmit readings electronically without a visit from a meter-reader.
“The meters we are currently working off of are the original meters we installed in 1988 to 1990,” Steamboat Water District Utilities Superintendent Joe Zimmerman said. “They are basically obsolete.”
This year, the city raised its water and sewer rates to pay for the meter upgrades as well as millions of dollars' worth of other capital projects to improve water and sewer infrastructure. This year’s rate increase is the second of a three-year increase schedule.
Zimmerman said some of the other improvement projects made possible by the rate increases include the Elk River Road waterline replacement and the replacement of a wastewater main running down an alley between Oak Street and Lincoln Avenue.
“We’re doing a lot of improvements,” he said. “This is long overdue.”
Steamboat Finance Director Kim Weber said the city plans to invest $11 million throughout the next three years on the improved infrastructure.
Zimmerman said the upgraded meters will have a particularly tangible benefit to the city’s water customers. He said the new technology will allow the water district to quickly inform its customers of leaks and provide them with daily data about their water usage, sometimes saving them money and water.
He encouraged the city’s water district customers to call 970-367-6600 to make an appointment for the work to be done. It's estimated each meter will take about one hour to install.
The city’s water district isn’t the first in the area to upgrade its meters.
Mount Werner Water and Sanitation District General Manager Jay Gallagher said his district now has upgraded 75 percent of its 2,450 meters since 2008 with meters almost identical to the ones being deployed by the city.
Although it hasn’t been used to police customers’ water use under the current water restrictions, he said the new technology can be used to easily detect excessive water consumption and usage spikes that commonly come from a running toilet.
“It can use 4,000 gallons a day,” Gallagher said about a running toilet.
He estimated that amount of wasted water would cost a customer in his district $4 to $5 per day.
To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com