More information means residents can keep an eye on water consumption
Niskayuna's new residential water meters are more accurate, leading some to complain about increases on their bills, but officials say the plus side is the meters also allow residents to keep a closer eye on water usage.
Some Niskayuna residents saw higher water bills than expected in the latest billing period, but the rate of $2.60 per 1,000 gallons wasn't an increase. A water meter replacement project throughout the town now allows meters to be read from the street. Under the old billing system, residents had to mail in their water meter cards with their usage total or the town would estimate how much water was used. Town officials are saying that change in method and the particularly dry summer in 2010, are responsible for the increase some customers noticed.
In some instances, they were estimating their bill, and they had not read their meters in five, 10, 15, 20 years, said Councilwoman Denise Murphy McGraw. "Some of this is a surprise to folks, but it is not like they went down to read their meter every quarter or six months religiously, and it suddenly hit them."
McGraw also noted some people are getting checks from the town because their bills had been overestimated, and they were due a refund. Around 200 people, or 3 percent, are getting refund from the town, said Richard Pollock, superintendent of the town Engineering Department.
The new meters are much more precise, measuring to the closest 1/100 of a gallon, said Pollock. The old meters measured to the closest 10 gallons.
"On one the best comments or biggest questions [Pollock] answers is a lot of people are asking for their old meters back," said Landry. "We will not be doing that."
With the new meters, people will be able to keep a much closer eye on their water consumption.