Water Meter Replacements are inevitable. Maybe your water system has already crossed that bridge and the clock is ticking slower now towards that next 10 to 20 year replacement interval. “Whew”, another project completed and on to the next, right? But for many Utilities that are planning upcoming water meter replacements or more commonly an entire meter upgrade to AMR or AMI, there are many questions and options to consider before the project is specified and launched. Some of you may currently be in that decision-making phase. This article is for you.

These Three Critical things during your next meter replacement could make big impacts on Water Quality and depending on your state, Compliance with Regulations for Cross-Connection Control.  These items should be expressed in the scope of work and RFP (request for proposal) if meter replacements are outsourced. If specified effectively, these Three Critical Things should only cause a slightly higher average bid cost to meter replacement labor costs.

First, a Water Utility should make it mandatory the meter replacement installer documents the material type of incoming water supply to meter. This will provide a complete inventory of where lead piping supply is and is not. This token of data could be big time savings when addressing lead line replacements. In some states, having this data is now becoming required information a Utility must have record of.

Second, the meter installer should identify visually if there is any lawn irrigation on the premise. A simple walk around the perimeter could accomplish this. Additionally, determination of a existing or missing irrigation system backflow preventer could also be easily documented. This record could also supplement water conservation efforts during high use periods.

Lastly, the meter replacement technician should perform a cross-connection survey or inspection (residential services only) based on local or state requirements if they apply. If performed by a qualified technician, this should add no more than 5 minutes to each meter replacement. Regulations in both Michigan and Wisconsin require such an inspection and average costs per inspection is similar to the cost of replacing a meter. Proactive Water Systems in other states such as Indiana and Minnesota have also taken advantage of this “two birds with one stone” approach.

To sum up this article, if a Water Utility simply specifies more tasks/data points to be accomplished during a water meter replacement site visit, a greater return on investment and effectiveness can be gained. Adding these Three Critical Things to an RFP can eliminate mountains of paperwork later and prevent the “Why didn’t we do it when we were already there!” moments.

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