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Warrensburg to get water meters

The upgrades will allow the meters to be read remotely by a town employee passing by in a vehicle, Reed said.

The meter-reading device plugs into a laptop, which at the end of a shift can upload the information into a billing system, he said.

The 750-or-so existing water meters in homes in the Warrensburg water district - primarily in the hamlet - will need to have a transmitter installed, a simple process to be conducted by a town employee, officials said. Transmitters for existing meters would account for $56,000 of the project total, they said.

U.S. government data indicates that municipalities converting from a fixed rate system save a minimum of 10 percent in water usage because people are prompted to monitoring their water consumption to save money.

Last year, households and businesses in the Warrensburg water district used 155 million gallons of water, and have in the past used as many as 175 million gallons.

For years, town officials have said that many people let their taps and toilets run water unnecessarily to avoid simple repairs. In the early 1990s, a considerable number of homeowners ran water through their faucets all winter long to avoid freeze-ups, costing other water district residents dearly. The practice has subsided substantially as water lines have been properly insulated, town officials said.

The water district operates with a budget of $275,000 to $300,000 a year - primarily for utilities, chlorine, labor and maintenance - and about $70,000 of that sum is for electricity alone, Geraghty said. Electric pumps in the town's four groundwater wells pump water on demand into a storage tank above Alden Ave.

The project's cost will likely be offset by an estimated $95,000 in revenue from selective logging of a parcel of water district land, Geraghty said. The town board has recently held off on logging the land as planned because of temporarily depressed timber prices, he said.

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