Company to test city water meters
by Candrese Jones
Jan 07, 2011 | 3287 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Representatives from Siemens Building Technologies, Inc. gave a presentation to the Cleveland Board of Aldermen Tuesday about improvements that would help the city.

Chris McNeil and Anthony P. Ardillo, both Siemens representatives, discussed what they believe would be a great opportunity for Cleveland.

McNeil and Ardillo work with cities to make sure water meters are performing properly.

“In talking with Mayor (Billy) Nowell, we discussed some of the performance projects that we are working on throughout Mississippi that are available to any type of public entity,” said McNeil. “Our performance contracts are guaranteed.

“As I understand from reading the articles in the newspaper, you are working on improvements for your wastewater treatment plant,” he said. “We can assess the accuracy of all your meters and correct problems where necessary, which will provide additional revenues for the city that may help.

“Customers may see an increase in water rates because over time the water meters lose accuracy,” said McNeil.

“One of the cities we are working with right now is McComb,” he said. “They were losing approximately 50 percent of their revenue, which was turning their enterprise upside down. What we do is we come in and work from the front end of the system all the way down. We make sure everything is working properly.

“We just make sure everyone is paying their fair share of the revenue,” said McNeil. “When you enter into the project with us, if any money used to finance this project is not met by our projections at the end of the year, we cut you a check for the difference.”

“Could you give me an idea of where you all typically see a loss in revenues,” asked Alderman Danny Abraham.

“It typically comes from your commercial users,” said McNeil. “It’s nothing with the meter reading. It is the meters themselves and it’s only because over time the mechanical performance isn’t perfect.

“Every area is different,” he said. “In some areas, we see where there was 10 percent losses, 20 percent, or as we discussed earlier, 50 percent. We really don’t know until we complete the test.”

“By law for performance contracts, we are required to hire a third party testing lab to test all the city’s meters at no expense to the city,” said Ardillo. “We compile all the information and put it into a spread sheet and see what it looks like.

“After the test is complete, the city determines whether or not they would like to enter into a contract with us,” he said. “We get the information from the test and correct the problem. We will guarantee accuracy for the first five years up to 98 percent.”

“What would be the increase to residents,” asked Alderman Maurice Smith.

“I don’t know,” said Ardillo. “I can’t give an exact cost until we look at all the numbers from the tests.

“The only thing we’re trying to do is make sure everybody is paying their share,” he said.

“I am only asking because a lot of our citizens are used to a certain amount for their water bills,” said Smith. “It’s hard to explain to residents the increase in their water bills.”

“A lot of your increases are going to more than likely come from your commercial users,” said Keith Christopher, project director for ST Environmental.

“It’s not usually residential usage although you may see some,” said McNeil.

“It’s the medical facilities and commercial users that may be affected,” said Christopher.

“We want to help you all make sure that the weight (of the water bills) is being properly distributed,” said McNeil. “We don’t want it to be on just certain people. We want it to be equal.”

“The ability for any public entity to enter into performance contracts is something that went into place about three or four years ago,” said Ardillo. “This is something that either makes financial sense (to the city) or it doesn’t.”

The testing phase can take up to 60 days depending on the system the city has in place for keeping records.

“It just depends on the data base,” said Ardillo. “If it’s a good one it speeds things up.”

The board agreed to issue Siemens a letter of intent for qualification that will allow the city’s water meters to be tested at no cost to the city.