MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

March 14, 2009

Bad water meters cost city cash

Thousands must be replaced

More than one out of each five of the 15,800 new water meters installed two years ago in Muskogee is defective, said City Manager Greg Buckley.

About 3,000 of the meters are not correctly registering the amount of water used and will be replaced later this month.

In addition, the electronic devices that transmit the meter readings to City Hall have been replaced on another 3,000 of the new meters.

Honeywell, which sold the automatic meter reading system to the city, and Sensus, the company that manufactured the meters, are not charging the city for correcting the equipment failure.

Meanwhile, the city has lost an estimated $500,000 in revenues from water sales since the new meter reading system was put into use in September 2007, City Clerk Pam Bush testified at a Merit Board hearing Wednesday.

Part of that loss was blamed on city employee Brenda Davison, who was reprimanded for not following up on reports indicating water was being stolen or meters were not accurately recording usage. If Davison had done her job properly, the problem with the meters would have been discovered earlier, Bush said.

The rest of the loss can be blamed on Honeywell and Sensus, Bush said. The city will try to recoup some of its losses from Honeywell, she said.

The new meters were $6.8 million of a $9.8 million package from Honeywell Corp., which also included upgrading lighting fixtures and heat and air controls in city buildings and adding LED lights to the city’s traffic control lights.

Jose Torres, account executive with Honeywell, said Tuesday the meters are not defective, that the problem is with the electronic devices on the meter lids that transmit meter readings to city offices.

He said the problem at first was with the meter reading software. After that issue was resolved, it was determined there were sporadic problems with the transmitters.

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