Lake Charles to get new water meter system

Published: Jan. 5, 2022 at 9:23 PM CST
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - Lake Charles’ water system is decades old, still requiring physical meter readings. Problems with the system presented themselves especially during last year’s winter storm. City officials are taking action by replacing the entire system with automated meters.

“Especially with the natural disasters and the aftermath we experienced with our water system, those really pushed this conversation to the forefront,” Mayor Nic Hunter said.

“We had so many homes that we unoccupied that had water service to them,” Kevin Heise, the city’s utility manager said. “Many of those lines burst into homes, residents weren’t there. So, we just had hundreds of people walking the streets, driving the streets going to each individual home and turning off that water.”

Currently, the city is relying on estimated billing, but the new system will reflect exactly how much water is used.

“And this has created some understandable frustration with the public, so moving to these new AMI meters, we will guarantee an accurate and dependable and fair bill,” Hunter said.

“The old rotary meters that have been around for 30, 40, 50 years, they have a degree of inaccuracy, so it was very important to have that accuracy for our customers,” Heise said.

It took days to identify leaks during the winter storm. With the latest technology, workers will be able to identify leaks within hours.

“It will be a certain level that we set at each house, and we will know when there is break at that house and that owner can be contacted or we can send a crew out to turn the water off, so more damage occurs to that house,” Heise said.

“We believe we can drastically reduce the amount of water that is wasted through our system, and that is good for the environment, and it’s good for our water source, as well,” Hunter said.

Installations for new meters will take anywhere from 16 to 18 months. The price of the system will reflect on residents’ monthly bills and is estimated to be two to three dollars. The city will begin installing the new system July 2023.

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