By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Meter reading going high-tech
Springfield upgrades treatment plant and water meter reading
Placeholder Image

The Springfield City Council approved a bid for a new dewatering facility and the purchase of automatic meter reading software Tuesday.

Public Works Director Lowell Morgan recommended using BRW Construction Group for the project. He said the city has had work done by the company before.

“So far their work has been up to par, and they are the lowest bidder,” he said. “My recommendation would be that we accept this bid subject to financing.”

Councilman Dennis Webb asked if Morgan had talked to them about the time frame.

“Our real concern is to get this operational before fall,” Morgan said.

“If we pay for this out of the money we’ve got, it’s going to be cutting it close,” Webb said. “What I want council to consider is borrowing money until the end of the year, and at that time we can either look at permanent financing at a bank or we can pay for part of it with (special purpose local option sales tax).”

Morgan said there would not be any other expenses for the dewatering facility.

“The only thing we’re going to have to do is buy a dump truck,” Webb said.

“We’re currently looking at going to reuse. That’s going to be a major on the upgrade,” Morgan said.

Councilman Charles Hinely asked how this facility fit into the expansion planned for the wastewater treatment plant.

Councilman Kenny Usher said it is part of the overall upgrade and expansion to the plant, and Morgan expressed concerns about the return station.

“This thing will put out about 180 gallons of water a minute,” he said. “We’re going to try dumping that into the current drying beds and allow that water to percolate through the sand and slow the process of going through that station.

“That station is part of the upgrade also and it’s something that we keep putting off,” Morgan said. “That control panel is a 1989 control panel. The only way you get parts for it is to find a company you can special order it from. If that goes down, it’s the heartbeat of that plant. That’s something that we probably need to look at — one of the next things we probably need to do in the upgrade as we get funds to do it.”

The council also discussed software for an automatic meter reading system. Morgan told the council the city has approximately 500 meters that can be upgraded for use with the software system. He said there are approximately 2,000 meters in the service delivery area.

“We’ll swap out and order the meter. Instead of the meter costing $45 it will cost $175 and we will add that to the impact fee,” Morgan said.

Morgan told the council he is recommending using the system from consolidated pipe instead of the system that Rincon and Guyton began using and he said assistant city clerk Amber Nettles likes the software package much better.

He said he went with a meter reader in an area that uses this system, and the software allowed for approximately 700 meters to be read in two hours.

Morgan said one of things he didn’t like about the system Rincon and Guyton use was there are exposed wires. The recommended system has everything contained in the meter and the meter is waterproof.

“It does a lot of things,” Morgan said. “It can tell you where leaks are. You can go back and let’s say Dennis had a problem with his meter. We can go back and look at x number of days and it can tell you the times of the day. It will analyze that meter and if that meter never stops moving, it will tell you there’s a leak.”

“It can tell you by the minute,” Nettles said.

Morgan said the city would have to budget over time to replace the meters that cannot be adapted.

Councilman Ron Boatright asked about the ability to turn water off and on from city hall.

“There is a system that can do that,” Morgan said. “We won’t have that yet. You could do that. You could put an antenna on the water tank and read every meter from city hall. Not only that, you could turn them on and off from city hall. That’s how sophisticated this system can get.

“Obviously we’re not buying that, and we’re not buying any meters or anything with it,” Morgan said.

Morgan said for next year’s budget they will have to decide how many meters they want to buy and budget for the man hours to change them out. He also said they plan to buy laptops to enter the data from the meters.

“You can physically enter into that just like you can the hand held,” Morgan said. “The handhelds cost about $4,500, but if you’re going to use the automatic read, you don’t use the handheld, you use the laptop, so we’re not going to buy both.”

Nettles said the laptop is more efficient when reading meters because it holds more information. It also will make bookkeeping at city hall easier.

“All you do is bring that laptop up here, and hand it to (Nettles) and she hooks it up to her system and it automatically does everything that she now does by hand,” Morgan said.

The council unanimously approved the purchase of the software and the laptop.