EPA grants $560,000 for new water meters in Farmerville

An ongoing effort by the Town of Farmerville to upgrade the town’s water system got a big assist last week when the Environmental Protection Agency approved a $560,000 grant to purchase state-of the-art, “smart” water meters.
Coupled with the $140,000 the town has committed to the project, Farmerville will be able to purchase and install $700,000 worth of new meters over the next 18 months.
The water meter project is being managed for the town by Karen Brown, who said the new meters will pay dividends for both the town and its water customers.
“The new meters will give us twenty-four, seven monitoring and will alert us if there is continuous flow at any meter,” Brown said. “We don’t have to wait until a customer gets a bill they can’t pay to find out there’s a leak.
“We’ll be alerted and can contact the customer to let them know they’ve got something going on that needs to be addressed,” she said.
Mayor John Crow said Sen. Bill Cassidy’s office helped push the grant application through the EPA.
Water conservation nationwide is a part of the EPA’s mandate and modern, digital meters have proven to both conserve water and reduce water bills, according to the EPA.
The move to update the town’s water meters began in earnest early last year after a review of utility accounts discovered that several homes around Farmerville were not being billed for the water service they received. The fault did not lie with the customers, Crow said, but with an outdated metering infrastructure.
“We’ve squeezed all the life we can out of these old meters, and now they’re starting to cost the town and the residents money,” Crow said in April of last year.
Smart meters use wireless signals to share real-time data with the water department, so every meter is being passively monitored all the times whether it’s attached to an active account or not.
“As it is, we find out there’s a leak because either someone calls us or we happen to see a pond forming in someone’s yard,” Crow said. “These new meters will alert us when consumption suddenly spikes somewhere, so we can get out there and check it out.”
Earlier knowledge of leaks will not only prevent wasted resources, but also can help limit property damage caused by undetected leaks, Crow said.
According to Brown, the new meters will also reduce the time the town’s water system employees spend responding to turn on or cut off orders.
“We can automatically turn water on or off without having to make a service call,” Brown said. “As soon as a customer pays their deposit, their water is on.”
Top priority for the new meters, she said, are the town’s multi-family housing complexes, where high resident turnover requires frequent service calls to turn water on and off.

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