New lead-free water meters which can be read remotely will be installed in more than 1,400 village residences and commercial buildings beginning in November.
The installation follows the recommendations of a private company, Johnson Controls, which audited village infrastructure last year and suggested it replace water meters and make energy efficiency improvements to village buildings and lights — projects it said would pay for themselves over time. With the water meters, that increased revenue will come from customers whose meters are underreporting usage. Village officials say the new meters should bring in an additional $14,000 per year by recording water use currently being missed by older meters.
The village meters are similar to those which caused controversy in the town last year, when some residents concerned about negative health effects caused by the radio frequencies used by meters voiced their opposition in newspapers and in a public meeting that ended with a rep from the meter company storming out, calling the crowd in the Glasco Firehouse a “lynch mob.”
Though, as the opponents pointed out, the long-term effects of technology like Wi-Fi and mobile phones, which use the same technology as the meters, are not known, the mainstream scientific view does not consider them dangerous and if one were to oppose wireless meters, one would also have to avoid all other wireless technology, which is ubiquitous.
As of July, the town had installed only 70 percent of the 1,800 meters in the Glasco Water District. Town officials are still trying to finish the job.
Village officials may not be so patient.
“There will be no opt out option,” said Michael Hopf, superintendent of the village of Saugerties Water Department.
Installation will be done by Vanguard Utility Services and should take three months to complete. Installers will have to access homes and commercial buildings to do the work. Possibly seeking to head off some complaints of unprofessionalism that surfaced last year during the town’s installation effort, Hopf said each installer would carry clearly displayed ID and all of the installers’ information will be given to the Saugerties Police Department.
Cost of the new meters is $320,000, which also includes the radios that attach to the meters so they can be read offsite, software, and training on the software.