Warrensburg Water Department employee Tracy Benoit installs a new water meter Aug. 9 in the basement of Regina Porter’s house. Sixty percent of the households in the Warrensburg Water District have not yet had new water meters installed, and they face a $500 charge if they don’t make an appointment to have a water meter installed by Sept. 1. Water customers that had water meters installed from the early 1990s through 2010 should have their meters replaced with a new model.
In recent months, Warrensburg water district residents have had notices delivered to their door, received phone calls and seen news articles urging them to call the town hall to get a new waters meter installed in their homes.
Yet despite a looming deadline, most of the homeowners — 672 of the 1,112 residential water customers — have not yet complied.
As of Sept. 1, those homeowners who don’t make an appointment to get a water meter installed will pay a flat $500 annual fee for their water instead of the present $195 rate.
The Warrensburg Town Board set the $500 fee Wednesday Aug. 8 to prompt people to have a meter installed, because the town is converting to a system in which water customers are charged based on volume used rather than paying flat fees set by household population and other factors.
If the water meter in one’s household is more than a year old, it most likely needs to be replaced, town officials said, observing that the lack of compliance with the water meter installation effort is probably due to confusion among district residents.
The meter conversion effort follows an initiative started in the early 1990s to charge homeowners for the gallonage used. Although meters were installed over the last 18 years or so, a previous town administration put the effort on hold, and a flat charge remained in place.
Those water meters now need to be upgraded to allow for modern billing methods, Warrensburg Town Clerk Donna Combs said.
Town Supervisor Kevin Geraghty noted that the pending switchover to billing by volume means fair charges for all, while reducing coss for the water district, which then lowers charges to water customers.
With the partial installation of meters, the town has already reduced the consumption of water by 30,000 gallons per day, which is now saving local taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars in pumping and purification costs as well as sewage treatment expenses. The district pumps about 300,000 gallons of water per day out of its four wells.
After the 673 remaining households are converted to water meters, this drastic reduction in water consumption is expected to increase, generating further savings for all residents and businesses in the water district, Geraghty said.
Commercial properties have already complied with the mandate to have water meters installed, and that conversion effort is complete. The commercial water customers are now being billed by usage.
The new billing system is set to start in September, with households to be billed $195 for the first 20,000 gallons, plus $1.95 for every 1,000 gallons over 20,000 gallons used, according to plans, Combs said.
Water district superintendent Thomas Belden noted that the average water consumption per person in the U.S. is 100 gallons per day per person.
The average customer of the Warrensburg Water district, residential and commercial combined, uses 88,592 gallons per year, according to figures provided by the town.