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Water meter installations begin in Lodi

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Posted: Friday, June 17, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 6:22 am, Sat Jun 18, 2011.

Juan Barragan pulls the cover off of a water meter box and brushes some dirt out of the way on Thursday morning. He asks intern Garrett Wiman to turn off the water supply. He then checks the pipe, puts in the meter and asks Wiman to turn on the water again.

The whole process takes about five minutes. He grabs his tools and moves on to the next yard.

Knife River, a construction company the city hired, has two crews working in the city to eventually install 3,800 meters by November. The work is part of a seven-year plan to install 13,174 water meters and replace 25.4 miles of water pipelines.

The contractor started on June 5, and crews are working their way through the Far West neighborhoods, which tend to be fairly easy installations, Knife River employee Tony Giannecchini said.

Most of the boxes are ready for meters, so it only takes about 10 minutes to put one in. The main issue workers have run into is that some of the meter boxes are too old and need to be replaced. In that case, it can take up to 30 minutes, he said.

If there are any other issues that are more complicated, the crews will pass the house and come back to it later. He said that is the case in about one out of every 50 services.

For example, on Thursday, Giannecchini discussed solutions for a home that had an elevated yard, but the water service was never elevated so it was deep in the ground.

"Our biggest issue is locating boxes that have been hidden with landscaping or structures or walls," he said.

The company leaves notices on the doors letting residents know that their water will be turned off at some point during the next 24 hours, but it usually is never more than 20 minutes, Giannecchini said.

"Most of the time, they don't even know we've been through their neighborhood. We had a woman come out and ask when we were going to install her meter, and we had already finished," he said.

Across town south of Kettleman Lane, another crew is working on a more complicated project.

In a neighborhood off of Elgin Avenue, Knife River employees spent Thursday working on a trench in the middle of the street to replace a water main.

The company will have to use a directional drill machine to connect the houses to the main. The machine can drill horizontally under ground, so it does not disrupt landscaping.

The engineer for the project, RMC Water and Environment, hired interns to inspect the work and document when a meter is installed.

On Thursday, the two companies worked in teams of two — one Knife River employee and one intern. The teams leap-frogged each other quickly installing the meters.

The three interns spent last summer walking Lodi's streets, checking to see what type of work the city had to do at every house.

Brittany Puerta, a student at University of California, Santa Cruz, said she inspects the meter to make sure it meets city standards. She looks to see if the piping is straight, confirms that the meter is at the right depth, and checks that the box is still in good shape and that the meter is stabilized by bricks.

Puerta is majoring in legal studies but was attracted to the job because she is familiar with Lodi.

"I liked walking around Lodi and seeing things I've never noticed before. I'd find houses that are really pretty. I even ran into old friends," she said.

Wiman said he wanted to intern because he originally planned to become an engineer, but then decided to switch career paths and graduated with his emergency medical technician certification. Still, he said it will be good to have on his resume.

He said people have not been complaining as much this time around compared to last summer when he walked neighborhoods.

"People were pretty upset about it last year. I think everyone has calmed down and realized it's going to happen whether they like it or not," he said.

Contact reporter Maggie Creamer at maggiec@lodinews.com. Read her blog at www.lodinews.com/blogs/citybuzz.

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  • Jackson Scott posted at 9:47 pm on Mon, Jun 20, 2011.

    Jackson Scott Posts: 382

    roflmao! Gladys Kravitz is a character from the old sitcom "Bewitched." She was the nosey old neighbor lady who stuck her nose where it didn't belong. EVERY neighborhood has one.

  • Doug Chaney posted at 8:56 am on Sun, Jun 19, 2011.

    Doug Chaney Posts: 1232

    Are you referring to public works, Lodi electric, city council, accounting department or the city management team when you refer to those who not only mismanage, but misappropriate city funds, Mr. Bitz? That's a very good point that should be researched by the crack investigative team at the Lodi News-Sentinel?

  • roy bitz posted at 7:23 pm on Sat, Jun 18, 2011.

    roy bitz Posts: 489

    Personal attacks take away from the core issues discussed here, and provide great cover for those that initiate and mismanage city projects and city funds.
    Please follow the rules of the road if you wish to be considered relevant.

  • Doug Chaney posted at 1:53 pm on Sat, Jun 18, 2011.

    Doug Chaney Posts: 1232

    Mr. Scott, I've been a proponent of water meters for years. I've installed many myself as a craftsman journeyman plumber and sprinkler fitter. We do install our own underground water supplies, in case you're not smart enough to figure that out. I've complained for years about the system the backwards town of Lodi has used to charge for utilities, especially water and wastewater. This is the only town I've ever been in that doesn't have water meters. Why should they when their old system bilked people like you and I out of thousands of dollars, if not more, by their bedroom based ripoff system. My wife and I live in a 3 bedroom home and always have conserved on our water usage, as I assume you do too. So why should a couple with a three bedroom home pay more than a single mother or married couple with several children? I'm happy to see the water meters go in, but the screwdriver mechanic and his "meter installer" aren't what I'd expect to be installing water meters on a potable water system. Who will test these installations and flush each residence to assure they are leak free and that debris, contaminants or any foreign materials enter the residence and damage the plumbing? You certainly jump to conclusions fast, sir? I'll be waiting for my cape and mask, too, by the way, Mr. Jackson. Seems like now you've turned into the neighborhood snitch. Why don't you just approach this lady instead of blabbing her name on these blogs? Maybe she can tell us a thing or two about you and your family, too? How would you like that?

  • Jackson Scott posted at 8:04 am on Sat, Jun 18, 2011.

    Jackson Scott Posts: 382

    How old are people? You all sound like whiney, mommy-hand-holding entitled 20-somethings.

    While I am not in total agreement with all of the aspects of how & when the CoL is doing the water meters, you have been given ample of time, tons of information, and many articles in the past to vent about your displeasure. Some of you make it sound like you haven't heard of any of this before.

    Good Ol' Doug, cries about union jobs, prevailing wages, blah blah blah. Hey Doogie, it's those same union brothers of yours that are holding the CoL hostage with their outlandish compensation packages like the 3/50 or 3/55, whatever it is depending upon PD or FD.

    A recall Doug? Great idea. Why don't you spearhead it, gather signatures, and then place your name on the ballot to be the Corruption Fighter. I'll get my wife to make you a cape & a mask, and you can wear it as you sneak through City Hall sniffing out the GOB's and their Brown Act breaking backroom deals.

    Mr. Christy correctly points out that state law does not require the meters until 2025, but why not do it now? I want to be charged only for the water my family uses. Besides, I want to watch Gladys Kravitz on my block freak out when she gets her first metered bill: she overwaters her lawns all the time, she hoses down the sidewalks in front of her house every afternoon, including the street gutters.

    Really, is it fair that my family of 5 pays the same as my parents with only two people living in homes about the same size, 3 bed & 2 bath & 1800sqft? I'm sure we use 3x as much water with all of the showers & clothes washing.

  • roy bitz posted at 7:36 am on Sat, Jun 18, 2011.

    roy bitz Posts: 489

    I have tried to follow the progression of the of the water meter project and the related "treat and drink" surface water treatment plant for the past two years. Unfortunately, there have been so many contradicting and confusing bits of information released over the years ( and frequently revised) that it is almost impossible to know the true Cost/Benefit of these projects are.
    The total cost of all the "unadvertised" projects associated with the "treat and drink" surface water treatment plant will be some TWO HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS over the forty year life of the water purchase contract.

    The benefit: I do not believe the treat and drink water treatment plant provides any rate payer benefits---in fact--I believe this plant will provide "adulterated" water to rate payers. Surface water is seriously polluted. It is not unusual for the city to close Lodi Lake to swimmers due as the water is unsafe. The plant will heavily chlorinate river water to kill pathogens. This water may be safe to drink but---.

    Bottom line: Rate payers will pay pay pay and get heavily chlorinated water, while those living outside the city limits will continue to pump all the great ground water they want----unmetered---unrestricted. How fair is that?

  • Kim Lee posted at 4:08 am on Sat, Jun 18, 2011.

    Kim Lee Posts: 1798

    Thanks COL for the early morning wake up call... aka installing the new water meter outside my bedroom window. Sheesh.

  • Doug Chaney posted at 6:19 pm on Fri, Jun 17, 2011.

    Doug Chaney Posts: 1232

    This is just the first installment payment plan for the new unnecessary and unneeded water treatment plant, with many, many more to come as long as the three amigos are allowed to practice their naive way of corruption. Maybe a recall like the city of Bell is necessary?

  • Joe Baxter posted at 6:14 pm on Fri, Jun 17, 2011.

    Joe Baxter Posts: 1795

    Possible to find out how much Knife River is paid for "each 5 minute" installation?

  • Joe Baxter posted at 5:06 pm on Fri, Jun 17, 2011.

    Joe Baxter Posts: 1795

    I do realize the meters are state mandated and the City is obligated to comply but you can bet your morning cup of coffee they are salivating at the extra income that will be generated. After all, homeowners are obligated to make up the difference between what our City "Fathers" spend and what the City collects. Heavens forbid they should figure out a way to live within their means like citizens have to do.

  • Dave Christy posted at 4:32 pm on Fri, Jun 17, 2011.

    Dave Christy Posts: 27

    Since these water meters are not mandated until 2025 do we believe that liveable loveable Lodi won't start reading them until then and we can go ahead and put off burying our pools and enjoy them until that time, NOT , as Mr. Chapman stated large families and pool properties are going to be a cash cow for the hungry overpaid municipality , just as is our 5 tier system of charging for electricity.Future Model home in Lodi will be surrounded by concrete, no plant life, solar panels on roof, 12" insulated walls, floor and ceiling, or maybe just build underground. We're being mandated to death because of leaders and citizens with no backbone.

  • Robert Chapman posted at 4:17 pm on Fri, Jun 17, 2011.

    Bob Chapman Posts: 997

    Joanne Bobin, I certainly hope your husband is wrong about his longevity.

  • Joanne Bobin posted at 2:11 pm on Fri, Jun 17, 2011.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4306

    Mr. Chapman, actually, my husband has health issues that make him believe he may not be around 3 years from now. Since he is quite a bit older than I am he hates to have any "outstanding" issues related to our property that I will have to deal with later.

    If that was not the case (i.e., his fastidiousness about small details), I would definitely go for the 3-year payment plan. I understand your comment about the COL lien and its value, but who knows where these liens will lead. I'll bet it's going to be a costly issue for the city eventually as people contest them.

    Good question, Mr. Molle. In my view, the landlord is responsible for the cost of the meter since it is attached to the property. Seems a call to COL is needed in your situation.

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 2:02 pm on Fri, Jun 17, 2011.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9403

    Robert stated....Why should i have to pay for a meter for a house that is not mine.

    Robert... If I were your landlord, and it bothered you that you would have to pay... I would smile... send you a letter that I would be happy to pay the water meter expense since you do not own the house. Then, when it comes time to renew the rental agreement, I would analyze my increased expense and raise your rent by the amount of increased cost, whatever attributed to that increase. Would that make you more happy? Please note that I am attempting you mimic your humor... thanks for your post.

  • Robert Molle posted at 11:24 am on Fri, Jun 17, 2011.

    Robert Molle Posts: 42

    Here is a question the city of Lodi has never answered. I rent a house that i do not own. Who has to pay for the meter? If the people that own my house do not pay the bill is that 8 dollar charge going to go on my utility bill? Why should i have to pay for a meter for a house that is not mine. The people who own my house do not live in Lodi so they dont have a utility account the city can start charging if they do not pay the lump sum.

  • Keith Colgan posted at 10:49 am on Fri, Jun 17, 2011.

    Keith Colgan Posts: 29

    There may be more to the lien than is obvious. See the following posting on www.lodi360.com


  • Robert Chapman posted at 10:15 am on Fri, Jun 17, 2011.

    Bob Chapman Posts: 997

    Joanne Bobin, the lien they place on your property isn't worth the paper it is printed on. I would assume you plan on paying your city bill for the next three years (assuming you don't relocate). After you have made all your payments for the three years, they MUST, by law, release the lien. It is strictly a scare tactic they are using to convince homeowners to pay the $300 way before the meter is installed.

  • Joanne Bobin posted at 9:48 am on Fri, Jun 17, 2011.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4306

    We're in phase one of the installation according to the map, so my husband paid the $300 extortion bill two weeks ago. He was adamant that COL was not goint to have a lien on our property.

  • Robert Chapman posted at 9:05 am on Fri, Jun 17, 2011.

    Bob Chapman Posts: 997

    I am also encouraging homeowners to opt for the payment over three years. Pretty cheap money and the City doesn't have your money to squander prior to intallation.

  • Robert Chapman posted at 8:12 am on Fri, Jun 17, 2011.

    Bob Chapman Posts: 997

    I am anxious to talk to people who are billed AFTER the meter was installed and compare the amount to the previous flat rate. I highly suspect the minimum will not be below the previous flat rate and nobody will see a reduction in their water bill. This will force people to be water conscious and homes with a lot of people or swimming pool owners will most likely see substantial increases.

  • Charles Nelson posted at 8:08 am on Fri, Jun 17, 2011.

    Charles Nelson Posts: 257

    Let the overcharging begin!

  • Doug Chaney posted at 7:46 am on Fri, Jun 17, 2011.

    Doug Chaney Posts: 1232

    Shouldn't a licensed plumber be doing these water meter installations? And shouldn't the intern be an apprentice? Is this a paid internship? If so, how much? I'm hoping to see the weekly prevailing wage reports from public works once the billings start.



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