Letter: Misplaced hysteria over Saugerties water meters, regulations

Photo by Dion Ogust

Photo by Dion Ogust

After attending the public hearing on March 16 before the Saugerties town board meeting for the purpose of comments before the board voted on the adoption of the updated water board rules and regulations, I was struck by the misconceptions that upset some of our citizens. Perhaps I can help set the record straight.

These are not new regulations, just updated to fit these times and come more in line with the village’s regulations, as we have increasingly shared services with them, and it makes sense that the town and village are all operating under the same guidelines.

Regarding the water meters — the decision to replace water meters was initially mandated by the EPA, as they have found, over time in aging water meters, the lead from the brass fittings can leach into the homes’ water supply and that can raise lead content over EPA standards. Glasco meters are over 30 years old. The Water Department had no choice; meters had to be replaced. Approved meters were chosen and purchased for every home aided by government grants.


With well over 2,000 homes to have meters read, recorded and billed, this had become a very expensive and time-consuming process, requiring overtime and outside temporary help. The process took apparently two months to complete. The new meters are radio-read, connected to a computer that records the water usage and generates billing. The radio-read is activated at each household for less than a second and is dormant until the next billing cycle. Total time: one day.

There was concern expressed about minimum charge. This is necessary as all water is purchased from the village and is transported over the 9W bridge to the hamlets. However, the water bill also reflects the maintenance provided by the town water department. We think only of water main breaks, but there is a lot more to it. If I may cite the recent major project to replace the holding tank in Glasco as an example. The tank is necessary to insure proper pressure at each household and is a backup in the event there is a problem with the main feed from the village. This was a major expense and part of the operation and maintenance.

Two residents expressed concerns that their constitutional right of privacy would somehow be compromised and might lead to their use of arms. Meters need to be read, problems addressed. This has never been a problem in the past. Nothing has changed.

I suggest that those with concerns over the new meter and/or privacy take two steps: One, if you opt out of having a new meter installed have your existing meter relocated to the outside of your home so none one has to enter your home. Two, definitely have your water periodically tested for lead.

I hope that this information is in some way helpful and clears up a few misconceptions. We are proud of our water and sewer departments. Their only mission is to provide efficient, dependable water and sewer services to our town — not cause hysteria.

Sandra Pietrofesa