The Town of Altona is advancing an effort to install updated water meters in local homes, and has hired a contractor to do the work. 

According to the Town, a majority of the old meters have reached the end of their recommended service life and need to be replaced. 

Public Works staff have already completed a number of replacements, but Mayor Harv Schroeder says bringing in a special team will help with a quick turn around. Council has awarded a tender by Neptune Technology Group to install the units for a total cost of $240,000 before taxes, thanks to some cost-sharing available through the Manitoba Water Services Board. 

Homes with older meters will receive a full replacement, and those with newer meters will get a new register with all of the same features as the full meters. While the new units will look similar to the current meters, Schroeder says they come loaded with added features, such as a built-in antenna which eliminates the need for running wires through the house to an external reader pad, and the ability to read them remotely.

"This means that will be no more quarterly meter cards for Altona residents. The Town of Altona team will read the new meters by simply driving by the address, eliminating reading errors and estimates," explained Schroeder, adding this will simplify the workflow for residents and administrative staff. 

As well, the updated meters will be able to be read more frequently (i.e., monthly), sorting out abnormal flows when they happen instead of waiting for the quarterly billing.

"The system can help identify leaks by flagging a meter that has non-stop flow for an abnormal period of time, helping homeowners resolve issues sooner, and conserve water and money from leaking down the drain," said Schroeder. He added, the system will also flag abnormal usage such as tampering or backflow. Additionally, data read from each meter will be stored for 96 days, allowing customers to review flow rates with town staff if any questions arise.

The tentative plan, added Schroeder, is to begin the installation push in late fall with completion expected by March 2024.