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Marion, Sunset reach agreement on new water meters


Cities will work together to install upgraded equipment

Marion has agreed to do the installation work to put in new water meters in Sunset.

Mayor Frank Fogleman told the City Council that Sunset notified them that they would like the city to do the work.

“This is part of our management agreement with Sunset,” Fogleman said.

“Sunset City Council has authorized the use of their funds for these improvements. Our guys will work off time hours or on weekends. They will do the installation and we will be reimbursed by the City of Sunset for that.”

Sunset is planning to replace the heads on about 250 radio read meters which have reached the end of their lifespan. The meter heads record the water use of each customer and transmit a radio signal which is then picked up by a mobile receiving device.

The meter reader simply drives by the service area until all of the meters are read.

“They have been having a problem with the old meters,” Fogleman said.

“There is a cost to go back and re-read or manually read because the register is not functioning like it should.”

The new heads are manufactured by Master Meter and come with a ten-year warranty. Each meter costs about $40 and about $20 to install.

Marion has experience replacing radio read meters.

In 2016, Marion spent $1.3 million to replace 3,500 radio read meters with news ones that transmit data using cell phone technology and $150,000 on installation help from the manufacturer.

The money to replace the meters is being provided through a loan from Communities Unlimited, an agency that offers loans for water and economic development projects to small, rural, and underserved communities.

Marion Water Department Superintendent Jim Shempert said he has already contacted the manufacturer and is just waiting for Master Meter to get them here.

“I told them we are ready to do the job,” Shempert said.

Shempert said the job of replacing the meter heads is not a big one and should take less than a week to complete.

“It will go pretty quick,” Shempert said. “What we are replacing is the top of the meter, the register part.

We’re not actually removing the meter. It takes more time to clean the dirt away than to install them.”

Shempert said he will probably assign about two or three water department workers to do the job.

“I know a couple of them want to do it,” Shempert said. “They will be working on their own time. It might be a Saturday or late in the afternoon. We’ve got until 9 p.m. until it gets dark. Once they get started on them, I don’t think it will take a week.”

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