CONWAY, S.C. (WMBF) - Each year, Conway replaces around 1,000 aging water meters throughout the city to ensure the accuracy of its billing.
The city’s utility director, James Friday, said the city budgets around $600,000 each year for new meters. Some of them are installed in new housing developments while others replace aging meters.
According to Friday, the meters go bad every 10 years.
“As they wear out, they just get a little sloppy or quit reading or read low,” he said. “Most meters that fail read low.”
A lower reading means less cost to the consumers, so initially, replacing the meters may seem like something consumers don’t want. However, Friday said replacing the meters saves residents in the long run.
“In order to keep water bills down, we try to bill people for the water they use and if you have half the meters or a portion of your meters not reading correctly, then we have to raise the water rates on everyone to make up the difference,” Friday said.
The utilities department is run solely on the money it generates from users. Friday said no additional taxpayer money is used for services.
This year the city predicted water usage would generate more than $6 million for the Utilities Fund.
“We have to maintain a positive cash flow coming in to maintain the system,” Friday said. “It costs money to keep the meters up to date but it costs more money not to.”
Friday said the city is about halfway through replacing the meters for this year. Earlier this month, Conway City Council had to consent to the purchase of 250 new meters for around $72,000.
Currently, city employees drive down streets to collect water meter data but Friday said the city will soon move to a new system. The new ‘fixed asset’ meters will be able to instantaneously be read from afar and connect automatically with the city’s billing department.