Water meters installation almost complete despite snags

Published 8:32 pm Friday, December 19, 2014

By Blake Deshazo

The Selma Times-Journal

The installation of more than 7,000 new radio-operated water meters in Selma will be completed soon, but the project hasn’t been all smooth sailing.

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Since the project started last summer there have been a few bumps and bruises along the way.

“There have been a few issues, but overall I think they have been the typical snags of doing any kind of project like this,” Selma Councilman Greg Bjelke said.

Some of the minor complaints people had were minor leaks, damage to their yard or the water was cut off while they were in the shower, but other customers had bigger issues.

“We’ve had some situations where because of the pressure, the water pipes in the yard have busted,” said Mayor George Evans. “We’ve had some hot water heaters burst, and we had to get some pressure relief valves put on them.”

The pressure relief valve is the root of the bigger issues because every home doesn’t have one installed.

“The water meters themselves are not going to actually cause the problem,” said Vickie Smith, who works at Blackbelt Sewer & Drain Cleaning Co. “The amount of water that the city allows is what could cause the problem.”

Smith said the valve is something that homeowners choose to get installed in their home or not.

Evans said Friday that the water board is still deciding on how they will solve the problems.

“The people who had those complaints have made those known to the water department,” he said. “They are working through the concerns to see how they are going to be handled with the Selma Water Board and the contracting company on how they will be resolved.”

Water board chairman Robert Allen said the board is gathering information on each complaint.

“We are looking at each one on an individual basis,” Allen said. “We have yet to determine how we will solve the problems, but we are gathering information as we go.”

Bjelke encourages people with issues to talk to the Selma Water Board.

“If you have an issue, you can air your grievances at the water board meeting that happens at the end of each month,” Bjelke said. “If people have a major issue, they can get on the agenda and address the water board.”

The new meters will allow workers to read them wirelessly from their vehicle and get more accurate readings. The meters will also be able to notify workers when there is a leak.

“Sometimes in the past we couldn’t tell when a water leak started or ended,” Evans said.

“But now any time there is a leak we can go back and pull the paper and find out when it started and for how long it lasted.”

Evans said he expects the installation project to be completed citywide within the next 30 days.