GLOVERSVILLE - The city Water Department is nearing completion of the first of three phases of a project designed to pinpoint water usage and fine-tune billing in the city.
The first phase covers properties east of North Main Street and north of East Fulton Street.
Residents are asked to call the Water Department if they still need to schedule appointments for the installation of radio-read registers on their homes' water meters.
Two department employees in uniform, with identification and driving a city vehicle, will make the rounds today, Wednesday and Thursday from 5 to 7 p.m. If this schedule is not convenient for the property owner, call 773-4520.
Register readers, not new meters, are being installed. City workers need access to water meters in basements to complete the project.
Installation of the digital readers began last September.
By the close of 2014, approximately 6,000 residential and business water meters will be read by computer, as city department employees drive by and collect the digitally stored information.
The project to replace the city's water meters will cost less than earlier estimated, said city Water Superintendent Christopher Satterlee. Instead of an estimated $1.2 million for the citywide replacement project, the tab is closer to $860,000, he said.
Benefits to city property owners will include more accurate readings of actual water and sewer use. Leaks or potential Water-flow problems can be diagnosed before a major line break occurs.
The digital readings will accurately charge for the amount of water used. No longer will a department employee need to physically record the meter's output.
"This is taking human error right out of it," Satterlee said.
There will be no staff cuts when the new system is in place, he said after the meeting.
With less time needed to read the meters, the department's crew can work on other projects, such as repairing leaks or maintaining drain flow.
Neighboring municipalities may follow Gloversville's use of the drive-by meter reading practice. Johnstown water officials are considering the system, designed to save money for the consumer and conserve water by eliminating leaks.
Fonda officials could benefit from similar information. Last month, village Mayor Bill Peeler reported to the Village Board that the village is losing almost $32,000 a year in water revenues.
Meanwhile, for Gloversville water users, it will become more costly to have water service turned back on again after it has been shut off. The fee to restore service will rise by $10 - from $65 to $75.
The increase is expected to be approved by the city Common Council.
Lisa D. Connell covers Gloversville news. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.