The Crossett Water Commission has been approved for a loan financed through the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission and will soon be purchasing new water meters.

Crossett was approved for a 10-year, $1.5 million loan at 0.5 percent interest rate to replace the city’s water meters, said Beverly Gammel with the Crossett Water Commission.

The current water meters are outdated and the water company has been replacing them sporadically. Now that funding has been approved, however, the water company will be able to replace nearly 4,000 meters, saving approximately $15 per meter by purchasing in bulk.

The meters that Crossett Water Company Superintendent Albert Mills said they plan to purchase are iPerl Smart Water Meters with a 20-year accuracy warranty.

The iPerl meters can be read using a drive-by read system known as a Vehicle Gateway Basestation device, allowing meter information to be fed directly to a laptop inside the vehicle. Mills said reading the meters with a VGB device will allow for the water company to collect more detailed information.

“It hugely eliminates human error,” Gammel said.

Mills said the new meters will allow him to schedule for one meter reader on staff instead of four. The meter reading currently takes four employees nearly a week to conduct, but with the new meters, one employee can get the same job done in a little over a day.

Mills said the commission will not be losing any employees, but instead using those employees in other areas.

“They are well needed elsewhere, we are spread really thin out here,” Gammel said.

The new meters will also allow for water leaks to be found and corrected more efficiently than with the old meters and help customers understand why their bill may be fluctuating.

Mills said he can use a laptop computer to log into the meters to check when and how much water was used at different points throughout the day.

One of the largest benefits from the new meters will be the accuracy of the readings and hopefully the prevention of water loss.

Mills said the commission had approximately 91 million gallons of unmetered water last year. Even though water used for fighting fires in the city and the in-house plant daily usage is not metered, Mills said 91 million gallons unchecked is on the extreme side.

The old meters are scaled due to hardness and do not spin as they should to rotate the water through accurately. This not only causes the city to lose revenue, but also causes residents’ water bills to fluctuate unnecessarily.

“For instance, the old meters may not turn properly with water usage one week, but all of a sudden it may register previous usage.” Gammel said.

The customers are still only billed for the water they use, but the delay between the actual use and the meter registering the use causes confusion.

“A meter will not register unused water, although these older meters can will and do miss water usage at times, thus the need to be replaced.” Gammel said.

The new meters should not only read the water correctly as it is used, but will also allow for the water company to see when and how much water is being used which will help detect leaks.

Arkansas Natural Resource Commission’s goal is to conserve water and they actually selected Crossett because they hope to see a major decrease in water loss, Gammel said.

“They chose the areas who needed it most,” she said.

Now that they have been approved for funding, Mills said the commission is simply waiting on the paper work and the actual money to come through.

The superintendent said he hopes to have the new system up and running before the end of the year.

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