Water meters will be installed throughout Galt beginning in just a few months. The timeline was set Tuesday when the Galt City Council authorized financing $3.1 million of the final $4.6 million contract with a vote of 4-1. Council members provided direction at the July 16 meeting, but did not take action.
The move has been under discussion since July 2012.
The project is part of a mandate that requires all California residents be charged for water based on usage by 2026. To do this, the city will replace approximately 900 existing meters, install approximately 3,350 meters on water lines already created to service a meter, and install an additional 3,200 where no service or line exists.
But Councilman Curt Campion said there are varying levels within those categories. For example, some have water valves installed but may not be meter-ready, he said.
Campion cast the lone dissenting vote.
The company chosen by the city council, Global Water Management, will not only handle the water meter installation, but also the annual services. This is estimated to cost about $67,000 a year.
Initial work to comply with the state law will also include installation of a solar-powered radio network to read the meters.
Property owners will be required to pay for their meters, although payment plans are available. The average up-front cost for a residential meter will be $300, and the city expects roughly 40 percent of residents will pay the cost in one lump sum, according to former Interim Public Works Director Richard Prima.
The fee schedule will return for council approval at a later date, although both Campion and Mayor Marylou Powers said in public they are not in favor of adding an administrative fee to residents who opt to finance the meter over three years.
“I don’t know if enough thought went into this (consumer) cost,” Campion said.
But Prima pointed out that the cost is being shared among customers, as the actual cost of meter installation will vary.
That work will begin in the coming months, with the project expected to be completed in August 2014. Next fall, the city plans to send out comparison bills to previous flat-rate customers before beginning meter billing.
Global Water Management plans to begin customer outreach in the coming weeks through residential door hangers to alert residents when work will begin, and when and for how long water will be turned off.
Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at email@example.com.