Local News

New Water Meters Might Mean Bigger Bills for Raleigh Residents

Posted July 12, 2007 9:06 p.m. EDT
Updated July 12, 2007 9:47 p.m. EDT

— The city of Raleigh will replace thousands of water meters in order to get a more accurate reading. But that change means residents could see higher bills.

The City Council set the plan in motion this week. In the next year and a half, all 170,000 customers will get new meters. They also will get bills every month instead of bimonthly.

The new meters use radio waves that send a signal to laptop computers in city trucks.

“We don’t have to worry about the dogs. Even the bushes don’t worry us anymore,” said Bruce Shane, with Raleigh Field Operations.

Long term, officials said, the city will save money. Short term, customers might tell a different story.

“We will be able to read without adding additional staff for many, many years,” said Charles Langston, a meter operations superintendent.

When an old meter that might not be as efficient is swapped out for a new one, customers could see increases in their bills.

"Normally, those meters are reading about 80 to 85 percent of what they should be reading,” Langston said. “So when you put in a new meter, it’s going to be reading at 100 percent.”

Wake Forest residents like Launa McCamy buy their water from Raleigh. They were among the first to have the automatic readers.

“I looked back since the automated system in December,” McCamy said. “Our bill has always been between $90 or $93, where as before there could have been a $20 fluctuation.”

The system has about 40,000 automatic readers now. City officials said they'll be swapping out boxes in many of the downtown neighborhoods next.