The Rockdale Water Resources alleged it is losing at least a million dollars annually from its commercial and industrial water lines.
On Oct. 13, the Rockdale County Water and Sewer Authority SPLOST Sub-Committee held a meeting at the RWR Central Facility, 2420 Tatum Road, Conyers, to hear a presentation from RWR, a revenue-generating governmental agency, about needing to fix the meters.
During the presentation, the loss of revenue was stated to be $1.075 million, but, because some of the meters aren’t giving accurate readings at this moment, Compliance and Technical Service Manager for RWR Deirdre Blackard estimates that the losses could be near $5 million annually.
“If we lose accuracy, we can’t collect all the revenue we need,” she said to the board. “Our product is water. We need to protect that.”
The loss in revenue is due to 24 percent of RWR’s large water meters not accurately measuring the amount of water being used by the clients. Meanwhile, another 46 percent don’t have a by-pass line, which RWR needs to test water, and requires the client’s assistance, by coordinating a shutdown date and time, to test water usage.
Irregular flows of water caused by twists-and-turns of the pipe before it gets measured and tampering with the standard water equipment installed are to blame for the large meters not working properly.
RWR is requesting at least $510,000 in SPLOST money to fix all the large meters. This estimate only includes the price of the parts needed and doesn’t include a contractor cost.
“We haven’t decided whether it would be contracted out or done in-house yet because we’re looking for funding,” said Blackard.
While the members of the SPLOST sub-committee seem to want to move forward with the project because of the potential large financial gain, the issue of how to fund the project was discussed.
RWR has been told by the Georgia Department of Transportation that the relocation of water lines for the Parker Road Widening project, which has been in discussion for years, will have been done in 2015, says RWR Dwight Wicks. Funding for the $650,000 project was to be paid from RWR’s general fund budget.
“The reason we went to SPLOST is because we didn’t have enough in the general fund to do both,” he said.
The board set a date of Nov. 17 to meet again and requested RWR staff to get more information on before recommending funding. The next official SPLOST meeting will be January 12, 2015.
Most of the meters giving RWR problems are referred to as “legacy meters,” meaning the system was either installed or tampered with decades before modern policies regulating proper water system set-up were in place.
Although any size meters can potentially give inaccurate readings, the large meters, with pipe diameters of three, four, six, eight and 10 inches, from commercial businesses represents 40 to 60 percent of the RWR’s total revenue for the year.
In total, RWR has issues with 83 of its meters, with 28 being untestable because they don’t read accurately and 55 needing the client’s assistance.
Wicks says the fixing the large meters would keep RWR from raising water usage rates significantly and add a level of accountability on the part of the customer using the water.
“It’s really just a program to make sure everyone is paying their rightful share,” he said.