Johnson Controls, City of DuBois Discuss Water Meter Changes

DUBOIS – Wireless meters were among some of the coming changes announced by a representative of Johnson Controls, Chris Kaiser, at the DuBois Council meeting Monday night.

Johnson Controls had been doing a study for about a year this month. It has been looking at the water distribution system and other things, and made recommendations based upon their research. At the meeting Kaiser mostly described the the planned change to the water meter system.

The proposed meters are designed to automatically report the level view wireless signals up to four times a day. This is in contrast to the current meter checking rate of once every ninety days. It was explained the benefit of this vastly faster reporting turn around would allow for finding problems faster. One used as an example would be a pipe break. Under the old system it would be either ninety days or the formation of a sink hole, whichever happened first, before the leak was discovered. With reporting several times a day the sudden increase of water use above normal for the location would be flagged in the system as a potential problem much sooner.

“I think the city will see immediate benefits when this program gets implemented,” said Kaiser.

The meters will run off of a “20-year” battery. It is recommended that while the meters can transmit up to eight times a day that four should be adequate and save on draining the batteries. This particular technology has only been around five years, according to Kaiser.

“This technology is proven. We’ve used it before on projects,” added Kaiser.

To fund this Council Bill 1820 was given its first reading at the meeting after Kaiser explained both the water and lighting projects. This bill calls for using $2.5 million through Bank of America. This will be paid off from the water and sewage bills. However, there are no current plans to increase taxes for this purpose.

Should a tax increase become needed it won’t take place till fiscal year 2009.

Commenting after the bill, Mayor/Acting City Manager John Suplizio mentioned a desire to go back on PUC with an added surcharge to help fund work on the water tanks. He also added that sewer rates hadn’t been raised since June.

Defending the current rates, Suplizio reffered to a CET Engineering Services newsletter that looked at the average water and sewage rates in Pennsylvania.

According to the newsletter the average rate is $26 per four thousand gallons of water used, DuBois currently at $20 per four thousand gallons. The lowest rate being $11 for the same amount. The same group put the average sewage rate for $32 per four thousand gallons. In comparison, Suplizio stated DuBois to be charging $27.68 for the same amount of use.

“On the water rate there is no municipal lower than us,” said Suplizio citing a recent Courier-Express article on the rates of municipalities in the area. “On sewer [rates] only one [is lower], New Bethlehem.”

Before calling for a motion to end the meeting, Suplizio went on the record of renewing his desire to see a sewage rate hike of $.25 barring any lawsuites to stop the hike. However, went on to renew his promise that it would be $.50 should there be any litigation in over to cover the court costs.

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