Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

City Council Approves Water Meter Plan ; the $45.3 Million Project Will Improve Accuracy

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

City Council Approves Water Meter Plan ; the $45.3 Million Project Will Improve Accuracy

Article excerpt

The Evansville City Council on Monday unanimously approved a $45.3 million project to modernize the city's water meter reading system - a plan that has been in the works since 2011. Mayor Lloyd Winnecke, speaking after the council's vote, applauded the work of the Evansville Water and Sewer Utility, the City Council, Johnson Controls and unions to reach a pragmatic plan to update the city's water meters.

"I want everyone to know that I am very grateful for (the City Council's) support. And, again, the fact that it was a nineto- nothing vote speaks volumes for the great work that has been done," Winnecke said.

Just a month ago, the plan likely wouldn't have been approved by the Council, said Council President Connie Robinson during the meeting.

The plan - dubbed Smart City 2.0 - was first conceived during former Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel's administration with Johnson Controls, Inc. in 2011, and was originally slated to cost $57 million.

The city, under Winnecke, began shaving off parts of the project to bring costs down, including removing a plan to create a Wi-Fi network for the meters. City Council members, including the Finance Committee President John Friend, D-Fifth Ward, and Council Vice President Dan Adams, D-At-large, were resistant to the plan that called for a "fiber-optic ring" with the meters, with a contract to cost $53 million.

In June, the Winnecke administration cut that portion of the plan, bringing the price tag to a more "palatable" $45 million, Winnecke said.

Councilwoman Stephanie Brinkerhoff-Riley, D-Third Ward, said she originally opposed the plan but was won over by the city's work in creating a plan "that's appropriate for the city."

The approved plan calls for around 47,000 water meters to be replaced in the city, said Allen Mounts, water and sewer utility director. The meters will be outfitted to give the utility more accurate water readings.

The new meters will also help the utility identify leaks more quickly and accurately, Mounts said.

The project will be funded through a bond issue, however, the project costs do not outweigh the overall savings, Mounts said. …

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