Last of the new water meters to be distributed

BENTON HARBOR — Benton Harbor homeowners whose water meters haven’t been replaced should receive a knock on their door in the next few weeks.

A little over 200 water meters are left to be updated, according to documents from Abonmarche, the city’s engineering firm. Bids are due from interested contractors by 10 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 5, at city hall, 200 E. Wall St. Specifications and more information are available online at www.abonmarche.com/bids.

Officials have said the city has around 2,700 water customers.

Benton Harbor Water Superintendent Mike O’Malley said there is no cost to homeowners to receive a new water meter.

“I’ve already purchased the meters,” he said. “They measure accurate flow of water being distributed to the homes and businesses.”

He said the old meters, which were installed decades ago, are read using a touch pad, meaning an employee has to walk from house to house to read the meters. The new meters can be read electronically several at a time from a vehicle moving down the street.

“It’s newer technology,” O’Malley said. “There’s more costs up front, but once you get going, it will save (the city) money.”

Most of the meters were replaced in 2016 with money from a Stormwater, Asset Management and Wastewater (SAW) grant the city received from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality in spring 2014. The rest of the meters are being replaced with money received in the spring of 2018 from the state’s Financially Distressed Cities, Villages and Townships Grant Program.

Once a contractor is approved, workers will go to each house to set up a time for the water meter to be replaced. If no one is home, they will leave a note on the door with instructions on how to set up a time for replacement.

O’Malley said an adult needs to be home at the agreed upon time so workers can enter the house. He said replacement takes about 30 minutes if there are no complications.

If the water can’t be shut off to the house, he said the valve at the curb needs to be found, which requires excavation and more time.

The deadline to complete the work is May 29.

Contact: lwrege@TheHP.com, 932-0361, Twitter: @HPWrege