March 24, 2014 10:26:57 AM
Installation of a new, $3.5 million water meter system will soon begin.
Columbus Light and Water's Board of Directors voted unanimously Thursday to approve a contract with Utility Management Solutions to install the new mobile system.
The board had initially voted to seek proposals from companies to install a $4 million fixed-base system, which uses a network of towers to wirelessly capture meter readings. In January, the board changed course at the recommendation of CL&W General Manager Todd Gale. At that time, Gale said he and engineers involved with the selection process were not comfortable with a vendor for a fixed-base system.
The board then sought proposals from vendors who could install a mobile "drive-by" system, which requires employees to drive to each meter to collect information but provides up-to-the-hour data for better customer usage monitoring, Gale said.
Three vendors gave presentations that month and the board authorized Gale to negotiate with UMS on a contract. Last month, the board voted to table executing the contract with UMS, who had the highest score overall from Neel-Schaffer engineer John Cunningham but the lowest score on the meters, when compared to the two other companies. Gale told board members last month that UMS' systems came with a 10-year warranty for each meter.
"Some of them can give hourly reporting, so if a customer has a leak, we can tell them when that leak occurred within an hour," Gale said about mobile metering systems in January. "If a customer had a leaking toilet and received a high water bill, today all we can tell them is what we read 30 days ago -- the usage over that last billing cycle. This helps them identify leaks. It helps customers become more knowledgeable on how they can conserve water and save money."
UMS is based out of Hammond, La.
The board also discussed establishing an economic development task force. The group would consist of members from the Columbus City Council, Lowndes County Board of Supervisors and Golden Triangle Development LINK Board of Directors. CL&W board member Andrew Colom said the task force would be designed to put together a strategy for increasing economic development in Columbus that would in turn generate more revenue for CL&W.
Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.