Hancock council hears ideas to capture missing water money
The water meters in Hancock properties aren't accurately recording water usage which means the city is losing money, city officials said at the Monday, Dec. 10, council meeting.
City clerk Jodi Bedel said in an interview on Dec. 12 that about 16 to 17 percent of the water used in the city is not accounted for in billing.
Meters are located inside each property and must be manually read. Meters may be inaccurate. Also because property owners and renters self-report their water usage each month they may not be accurately reading their meters or may be just be estimating gallons used instead of regularly checking the meter, Bedel said.
The council spent about two hours of the Dec. 10 council meeting listening to proposals that would help the city recover most of the lost revenue. The two proposals were for meters that can be read remotely by a radio. The council did not make a decision on Dec. 10. It agreed to meet in January in a special meeting after more information is obtained.
Representatives of Ferguson Waterworks of Blaine ,and Milbank Winwater of Milbank, South Dakota, made their pitches on Dec. 10.
Ferguson representatives Marc Meeden and Brad Klein recommended the city buy mechanical water meters at a cost of $98,800. The price includes about $20,000 in installation. The company installs the meters.
Mechanical meters have moving parts and can be fixed, Klein said.
"If a non-moving meter is (broken), It's a throw away. There's no fixing it," Klein said.
Representatives of Winwater had a different viewpoint.
Jim Urban of Winwater said a the non-moving meters have no moving parts that will break. The solid state or non-moving meter has a 20-year warranty, Urban said. It's been used since the 1980s and the company knows it will last at least 25 years, Urban said.
Urban Todd Phillips of Winwater recommended the city buy non-moving meters at a cost of about $67,800. The additional installation cost is about $19,800. Winwater uses a contractor to install the meters but said the city could hire that contractor or work with another.
All company representative stressed the city needs to make sure it buys water meters that do not need to replaced in several years because of new technology. All four said their new equipment can still be used with older equipment but will also be ready for future equipment improvements.
Urban said water meters that were installed in Browns Valley in 2003 can be read with 2018 equipment.