YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – The Youngstown Water Department will be replacing all of its meters for customers in the next few months.
On Thursday morning, the city’s Board of Control agreed to spend about $5.5 million dollars over the next five years to purchase and install nearly 52,000 of the devices for every home, business and industrial user in the system.
The electronic meters will eliminate the need for employees going house to house to read them, allowing the department to eventually downsize its workforce and cut costs.
“You know, this is what the new improvements, as far as technological advances offer today, so we would be doing our customers a disservice if we did not not take advantage of it,” Youngstown Water Commissioner Harry Johnson III said.
It also will make it easier for water crews to find leaky or damaged lines much sooner.
“It takes approximately a month before we can find out that a person has a leak. Well, with the new meter reading system, as well as the new meters, we will be able to determine that a lot sooner, so from a customer perspective, that is a big improvement,” Youngstown Water Commissioner Harry Johnson III said.
Engineers said they will need to hire a half dozen people to do the installation work, but because of the numbers involved, they said it could take five or six years to get them all done.
It has been 25 years since the city replaced its water meters.
Gloria Seyhat and her daughter moved into their Austintown house around the time of the last meter replacement program.
“Sometimes, we’ll have a water bill for $52 and then they will estimate, sometimes two months, they will estimate and then we get a water bill for in the $70s,” Seyhat said.
Although some of the meters have been in place for 28 years, engineers said the normal life expectancy for them is closer to 20 years.
“We are well past the expiration for changing meters, ” Johnson said.
Johnson said the new electronic meters will be more accurate than the old ones, eliminating the need for estimated bills as well as keeping consumers from paying for water they’re not using.