City Beat

Sacramento City Council OKs speeding up installation of water meters

Workers with Teichert Construction work on Land Park Drive south of 2nd Ave as part of a project that the city of Sacramento has launched to replace water mains and install water meters on Monday, November 24, 2014.
Workers with Teichert Construction work on Land Park Drive south of 2nd Ave as part of a project that the city of Sacramento has launched to replace water mains and install water meters on Monday, November 24, 2014. mcrisostomo@sacbee.com

The Sacramento City Council approved a plan Tuesday night to accelerate the installation of thousands of water meters in city homes and businesses.

By a unanimous vote, the council approved a plan by the Department of Utilities to shave four years off a previously adopted plan to place meters throughout the city. Officials said they would now complete the project by the end of 2020.

The shorter timeline will save the city $65.3 million, according to a city staff report. Utilities officials said they were driven to speed up the process by the persistent drought conditions gripping the state; water meters promote water conservation by forcing customers to pay for the water they use, not with flat rates.

Sacramento is one of the few California communities that is not entirely served by meters.

The city has installed roughly 74,000 water meters over the past decade and another 10,000 are scheduled to get installed by next year. That will leave 51,200 to be put in under the accelerated plan approved Tuesday.

Utilities officials said they would place more meters in lawns and decrease the number of new meters that are installed in sidewalks. Officials also said they would keep about half the existing backyard water mains in place and replace only those that need fixing.

While the faster plan will save money in the short term, it will cost more per year between now and 2020. To cover that cost, the city said it would delay planned upgrades and repairs to the E.A. Fairbairn Water Treatment Plant on the American River.

Call The Bee’s Ryan Lillis, (916) 321-1085. Read his City Beat blog at www.sacbee.com/citybeat.

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