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Meter magic: Cd’A cuts costs

Staff Writer | May 21, 2020 1:00 AM

The city of Coeur d’Alene’s Water Department is about to get a little more efficient.

The department got the thumbs-up late Tuesday night to go ahead with its purchase of a new water meter bench system, a work station that will enable the city to re-certify and rebuild water meters in-house, rather than purchase new meters at a much higher cost.

“We can greatly save on our meter purchases due to our ability to rebuild them,” said Kyle Marine, assistant superintendent for the Water Department.

He said the Mars Meter test bench will help reduce the cost of meters.

The department replaces about 2,000 meters per year through its maintenance program. This year’s program includes a stretch of the city from Government Way between Kathleen and Appleway avenues to the eastern edge of town, a program that began this week and will run through October.

All in all, the city has nearly 17,000 meters: roughly 16,000 3/4-inch meters at $206.18 apiece to replace, and about 800 2-inch meters at $705.81 to replace.

The new station, purchased through the Mars Corporation at a cost of $399,403, will allow Coeur d’Alene to rebuild and re-certify usable meters at about $18 per 3/4-inch meter, Marine said. A financial analysis estimated the city will save around $80,000 per year.

“We figure the meter test bench will buy itself back four-and-a-half to five years from now,” he calculated.

Water meters measure the volume of water used by a property. Marine equated the devices to gas pumps that measure how much fuel is being squeezed into a car’s tank; like the gas pump, the meters must meet strict government criteria to guarantee accuracy.

The Mars meter test bench will be housed in the Water Department’s new facility. The work station was a pre-exisiting line item in the department’s budget and was an expected expenditure, so new funds will need to be raised.

The decision to purchase the test bench was approved unanimously.