New water meters target low–level water flow, offer advanced features to help residents

Dec. 12, 2019 | Dennis Hackett

WESTFIELD – While some Westfield residents may be concerned about higher water costs after installing new water meters, Westfield’s Water Department staff explained that the new meters are useful to help residents determine any anomalies in their water rates.

Heather Stayton, systems engineer with the Westfield Water Department, explained the new systems can more accurately track low-level water flow that the old meters could not.

“The new meters are an improvement upon the old ones in terms of being able to detect low–level flow. If there was a small stream or even a small leak they may not register that,” she said.

Because the new systems are better at detecting leaks in a customer’s system, Stephen Fernandes, the Water Department’s deputy superintendent, said that will ultimately help customers cut their costs. He explained that the cost of water usage from leaks can add up quickly and the new meters allow customers and the department to see if there is a problem.

One of the advantages of the new meters is that they are connected to the network and whenever a customer may have an issue with their bill, the Water Department can pull up their usage almost immediately to help with any concerns.

“One of the distinct advantages to these meters is our staff can take a look at usage and can highlight if there may be a leak or a lot of usage because of an irrigation system. We can see those kinds of things and highlight them to home owners so they can take action,” said Stayton.

The new meters are much more modernized with interfaces to see the rates of water flow compared to the old ones, which in some cases could be rusted and worn out as the ones in the Water Department’s office were.

Stayton and Fernandes explained they had to change the meters because they were getting old and were past their expiration date.

“Meters only have so long of a lifespan and they were past that. Typically they’re designed for a 20-year period and we were well past that,” Stayton said.

Fernandes added, “Our meters were about five years past when they were supposed to be replaced.”

Currently the Water Department has installed 9,000 of the almost 12,000 meters that need to be replaced. Fernandes said all of the installs will be completed by the end of the spring.

Hannah Larkham, the Water Department’s office manager, said customers may also be seeing higher costs for several other reasons.

“The water rate did go up in April so this is our first set of summer months with the new rate so that may have a small effect as well,” she said.

Stayton added that if there are any concerns over higher than usual water bills, customers can always contact the Water Department to review their usage rates.

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