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Carolina Beach Awards Bid For Water Meter Replacement Project

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CAROLINA BEACH - The Carolina Beach Town Council awarded a $1,451,189.50 bid to Herring-Rivenbark Incorporated of Kinston, NC, on August 13, to conduct an Automated Meter Replacement Project. The project will replace older water meters and install a remote system that allows meter readings to be reported to Town Hall electronically rather than taken manually by personnel walking the streets. The Council advertised and received four bids ranging from $1.7 million to $1.4 million.
The bid approval is contingent upon final approval by the North Carolina Local Government Commission and the North Carolina Public Water Supply Section.
Town officials anticipate the new meters and reporting system will improve accuracy and efficiency. Meters older than ten years often give inaccurate readings. Customers with meters that have not been reporting accurately will see their monthly water and sewer charges go up.
During the Council's February 19, meeting the Council was informed of an opportunity to obtain a zero interest loan from the State Public Water Supply Branch of the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources to cover a portion of the project.
The plan will essentially create a town-wide network allowing the billing department to monitor and log water use.
When the project is completed, the Town of Carolina Beach would own and operate a functional and upgradeable Fixed Network Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) System capable of utilizing several types of meters and meter manufacturers.
The network will consist of a series of data collector units (DCU) located strategically throughout the Town that will communicate with the meters using a radio signal.
The network will also include leak detection, flagging large usage, numerous accounting features and tamper alarms.
Earlier this year Councilman Steve Shuttleworth said it could potentially be 4,000 meters although some meters are newer than others.
New meters recently installed are compatible with the new fixed network systems currently available. Older meters will have to be replaced.
At the Council's February 19, meeting Mayor Bob Lewis explained, "We're talking about installing these electronic meters that we think are going to be self funded in the end by the money we are saving on accurate meter reading and increases in revenue that maybe we had lost because meters aren't successfully reading everything. That should make up for the investment we make in electronics."
He explained, "We also have the advantage of leveraging labor that goes out and reads every meter today... every 4,500 properties each month and utilize those individuals to do some other things to actually improve the water system rather than just reading meters. There's a couple of advantages to this thing its not just spending money."
In February Councilman Steve Shuttleworth said, "As we move forward with that, I would just like us to be proactive with communicating with our residents as we start to look towards... putting those in that we let people know [they] might see a modification to their bill based on the fact that we have an accurate" reading.
He said, "We are not raising the rate, but there is good likelihood that a lot of people will get a bigger bill" and, " When we get to the point of putting these things in we need to
let our residents know that just because your bill went up doesn’t mean we raised the rate."
Earlier this year the Town replaced 19 meters and came up with a million gallons of new water usage in a 90 to 120 period.
Council member Sarah Friede said, "People have gotten a lot of water over the years for free from the Town. Not everybody, but some certainly have."
At the Council's August 13, meeting, Mayor Bob Lewis said the Town qualified for a zero interest loan under the Federal Clean Water Act to fund the project. He said, "This is kind of the first step in our comprehensive water and sewer upgrade plan that we've been working on for the last year."
Construction will begin in mid-September. The contractors will begin surveying and inspecting/locating water and sewer lines throughout Carolina Beach.
Water meter change-outs will begin during the first week of October (starting on Canal Drive) and continue through March. ALL Town customers will be getting a new water meter for the automated reading system. If you have any questions, please contact the Billing Department at 910-458-2983 or 910-458-4821.