DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond continues to make good on his promise to address the county’s water crisis. Thurmond announced this week that he has developed a plan to replace more than 100,000 aging water meters starting the fourth quarter of this year.
According to a task force led by Thurmond, 55 percent of the county’s 184,000 small meters, or 102,000, are at risk of failure and may contribute to inaccurate water bills. Thurmond’s plan includes replacing 62,000 small meters that are outside of their 15-year life cycle and 40,000 manufactured before 2014 that have potential factory defects. The majority of the small meters are residential customers, a county spokesman said.
“Implementing a large-scale meter replacement program will take time, but is a substantial step to restore faith in the accuracy of meter readings and water bills,” Thurmond said.
Thurmond’s task force, comprised of staff members in watershed, water billing, communications and the county’s Information technology department, has been meeting weekly to analyze every aspect of DeKalb’s water billing crisis, which resulted in excessive charges to customers.
County officials say the new meters will be replaced through the county’s procurement process. Costs have not yet been determined or where the replacements will begin initially. County spokesman Andrew Cauthen said that information would be provided as officials move closer to implementing the work.
After the older meters are replaced, defective meters will be replaced on an ongoing basis. The county will provide systematic maintenance of all meters at a rate of approximately 7 percent per year based on the age of the meter.
“This will ensure that we never have deficient, out-of-life-cycle water meters again,” Thurmond said.
Thurmond provided a 60-day update on the water billing crisis on May 23 at Rehoboth Baptist Church in Tucker. A 90-day update will be held in June. Information about the meeting will be provided as details become available.