Area Cities Replace or Install Water Meters

Abingdon, Beardstown – A project to replace residential water meters in Abingdon is about half-way complete.

Mayor Roger Stegall says the city received $250,000 in federal stimulus money to complete the project, which will replace about 1,200 aging water meters throughout the city. That amount will cover the entire cost of the project.

25 percent of that money will be completely forgiven. Because the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency distributed the stimulus money, 75 percent must be repaid interest free over the next 20 years.

Stegall says the upgraded meters will generate a signal, which will be sent to a box that meter readers can go up to and read with a touch screen. But eventually, the technology will be even more advanced.

"Later on we'll have what they call 'radio read,'" says Stegall. "Which means the meter readers can drive down the street and read the meter from their truck with a radio."

Stegall says that technology is still a few years away, but the newly installed meters are able to handle the future upgrades when they become available.

He says the rest of the meters should be installed within a month.

Meanwhile, Some Beardstown residents will soon have water meters for the first time ever. Every resident should have one by the end of next year. It's one part of a multi-year, multi-million dollar water and sewer project that also aims to replace 80 percent of the city's water lines.

Beardstown Mayor Bob Walters says right now, everyone pays a flat rate for water service -- no matter how much they use.

"Grandma and Grandpa were paying the same as a family of four, five, six, seven people or more. That's not hardly fair," says Walters. "Now, this will correct those inequities, and people will pay for what they use." The city recently hired Laverdiere Construction of Macomb to install the meters.

Walters says residents will still pay the flat water rate they've been used to at least until the end of next year. Until then, Walters says Beardstown will mount an aggressive education campaign because some residents have never had a water meter before.

The $6 million project is made possible in large part to one million federal stimulus dollars, and a $1.5 million no-interest loan from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. Walters says the rest is covered by bond issues.

He says the project should be finished by early 2012.