Water meter replacement program begins in Madison Heights

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published August 8, 2017

 The new meters, shown here at the top of the photograph, will provide more accurate readings and help consumers pinpoint any potential leaks, saving on water bills while protecting the environment. The old meters, such as the one shown at the bottom of the photograph, were installed in the mid-1990s and are approaching the end of their functional life span.

The new meters, shown here at the top of the photograph, will provide more accurate readings and help consumers pinpoint any potential leaks, saving on water bills while protecting the environment. The old meters, such as the one shown at the bottom of the photograph, were installed in the mid-1990s and are approaching the end of their functional life span.

Photo by Deb Jacques

MADISON HEIGHTS — Over the next year, every home in Madison Heights will be receiving a water meter upgrade. The program will be rolled out in phases, targeting different areas of the city at different times. Affected homeowners have been notified and will schedule appointments for the work to be done through the city’s contractor.

The program begins this month in District 1, the homes south of 11 Mile Road. District 1 could take four to six months to complete. District 2 includes the area between 11 Mile and 12 Mile roads, and will begin immediately after the completion of District 1. District 3, the area north of 12 Mile Road, is expected to take place in July 2018.

The city last replaced water meters between the years of 1993 and 1997. The water meters have an average age of 22 years and have exceeded the 20-year functional life span recommended by the American Water Works Association.

The new meters feature modern technology and will provide more precise real-time readings compatible with the city’s existing automated meter-reading system. Leak detection is a big benefit — the new meters will help residents identify and address potential leaks in their homes, saving on water bills and protecting the environment.

The project is being done at a total estimated cost of roughly $2.67 million. It’s funded by the $3 meter maintenance fee that the city has historically charged its water and sewer customers, a fee that has since been eliminated.

Informational pamphlets were mailed to District 1 residents in July; residents of districts 2 and 3 will receive them one month prior to each phase. When residents receive the mailed postcard notifications with scheduling instructions, they should arrange for an appointment that best suits their availability during the contractor’s hours of operation, which includes evenings and weekends.

Residents can also visit www.mynewmeter.com or call the Department of Public Services at (248) 589-2807 for more information.

The city’s contractor is Ferguson Waterworks & Utility Metering Solutions. Employees will carry identification badges, and their vehicles will clearly state “Authorized Contractor — City of Madison Heights Water Meter Replacement Program” and include the Ferguson/UMS and city logos.

“Water meters are mechanical devices that begin to slow down or under-register as they age,” explained Corey Almas, streets and facilities supervisor for the city of Madison Heights. “A few years ago, the city upgraded its meter-reading system to provide for automated data collection, earlier leak detection and a more efficient means of measuring consumption. Now we’re back to address our aging infrastructure by replacing the physical meter hardware itself. This will address accuracy and maintenance issues and ensure that our distribution system continues to provide high-quality, potable water for years to come.”

Chris Woodward, equipment operator for the Department of Public Services, said the DPS staff has been eager to get started on the program.

“We’re excited to finally have boots on the ground — not that the preparation for this program has been too long or anything, but we’ve done a lot of behind-the-scenes work to get to this point,” Woodward said. “At the end of the day, we’d like our residents to know that we’re committed to the success of the program, and they’re our No. 1 priority.”

Mayor Pro Tem Mark Bliss said the new water meters are an example of modern technology improving quality of life for residents.

“This is a great program,” Bliss said. “Modern technology will allow for more accurate meter readings that at the same time reduce demands on our limited staff resources. I’m proud of city staff for their efforts on this, and I look forward to completing the rollout.”

City Councilman Robert Corbett agreed.

“I believe the greatest value in this program is the idea of staying ahead of replacements before meters break down or malfunction,” Corbett said. “We’re approaching the normal life span for many of our meter units. It just makes sense to replace aging units in an orderly or planned method.

“The added bonus in the upgraded units is the improved ability to detect and quantify leaks in residents’ homes,” he added. “In the long term, the conservation value of preventing water loss is not only good for the environment, but also good for the consumer’s wallet.”