There's gold in them thar water meters
Replacing decades-old utility gauges could bring in more revenue, city officials believe

Kerry Craig | News-Telegram Assistant Editor

May 12, 2004 -- Sulphur Springs may soon be seeing more money pour in from the sale of water in the city.

City Manger Marc Maxwell said the city has undertaken a program to replace old water meters, some that have been in service more than 40 years. In a city council meeting earlier this week, City Finance Director Peter Karstens said the city's water revenues have taken a sharp upturn he attributed to the replacement of old water meters.

The city manager said he was anticipating water revenues to be up $100,000 to $200,000 by the end of the year, even if the coming summer months are not as dry as last year, which might be considered odd.

"There are a few reasons for it," he said. "One of them is the fact we had a dry fall last year and that revenue came in later, but I think the primary reason is we've been aggressively replacing old water meters and it's beginning to show."

Some of the old meters were not reading anything from month to month, which would mean the city could not bill the resident for any water usage at all. Others were reading next to nothing.

"That's quite a bit of revenue over a year's time," Maxwell said.

Water meters, according to the city manager, should be changed after registering about one million gallons. The first meters replaced by the city had registered more than eight million gallons and work now has progressed to meters that have counted in the neighborhood of three million gallons of water.

"We're still a long ways away, though," Maxwell said. "Some of these meters are more than 40 years old."

The flow of the additional dollars into the city's funds will have an impact on the city's budget process later this year, but it is still too early to guess just how much effect might be felt

"It's something we will deal with in budget during this summer," Maxwell said. "It will be up to the council."

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