JOHNSTOWN — An $850,000 project aimed at boosting water meter accuracy is set to begin soon in Johnstown.
In a test run on Tuesday, city employees will be among the first to have their old meters swapped out by Massachusetts-based contractor Hydro Utilities. Based on the water billing cycle, replacements — more than 3,500 total — will start on the city’s southside and end of the northside.
City officials believe the new devices from Neptune Technology Group should boost coffers. Faulty heads from Master Meters are costing the city roughly 25% in water revenue streams, according to Mayor Amy Praught.
“There are people who think they’re being overcharged, but in all reality the majority of people are being undercharged,” said Praught.
Neighboring city, Gloversville, too, recently began a swap between the same two brands. Gloversville Water Superintendent Anthony Mendetta told the Leader-Herald in January that the Master Meters devices have had a number of defects, including battery issues.
Gloversville received an $850,000 grant from the state Environmental Facility Corporation two years ago to supplement the project.
As a result of bonding issues created by the previous administration in Johnstown, and no supplemental grant funding, the bill has been footed through the budgetary reserves. Praught hopes that the city can eventually recuperate lost funds.
“The problem is — and this is the problem with the Water Board — they didn’t follow through with things,” Praught said. “If they applied for the grant when Gloversville applied for the grant, more than likely we would’ve had it.”
Johnstown’s since-dissolved, independent Water Board approved a contract last spring with Ti-Sales, Neptune’s vendor upon request from the then-new administration.
The replacement project was initially slated to begin in December, but had been delayed due to supply chain issues, City Engineer Christopher Vose reported. Meter shipments arrived in January.
“Just getting all the logistics in place, it just took a little bit of time,” said Vose.
Ti-Sales has previously told the Water Board that it aims to have 95% to 98% of the project completed within an 18-month window.
For Johnstown city residents, here’s what to expect:
- Each installation is available by appointment on weekdays between 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- All Hydro Utilities installers will arrive in marked vehicles and provide photo I.D.
- Per household, it takes crews 30 minutes to an hour to switch out a meter, according to Vose.
- An adult must be around to witness the installation.
Tyler A. McNeil can be reached at 518-395-3047 or [email protected]. Follow him on Facebook at Tyler A. McNeil, Daily Gazette or Twitter @TylerAMcNeil.