Arlington Installs Digital Water Meters, Saves on Labor Costs

City meter readers being reassigned to other positions

Arlington expects to save millions of dollars on labor with new digital water meters that will change the way the city measures customer water usage. 

The Arlington Water Department plans to upgrade all water meters tracking water usage to save time and money. There are roughly 100,000 water meters across the city. It takes a 14-person crew to check all of them each month.

“It consists of reading anywhere from 500 to close to 1,000 meters a day per person,” said Sam Gonzalez, an Arlington Water Department employee.

Buzz Pishkur, the director of Water Utilities for the city, believes there’s a more efficient way to do that — and that’s why the city is now installing digital water meters.

“I think when we’ve fully rolled it out, it’s going to be a great benefit to our customers as well as our city,” said Pishkur.

The new meters track water usage daily, then automatically transmit that information back to the water department. A 14-person crew is not needed.

“The magic of that is it will reduce our labor costs,” said Pishkur.

Pishkur estimated that the city will save approximately $20 million over the next 10 to 20 years by doing away with those meter reader positions. He said those employees will not lose their jobs. They will all be reassigned.

The city touts the meters’ benefits for customers. The new meters transmit information daily, they can help detect unexpected spikes in water usage caused by leaks or breaks much more quickly than the old meters, which are only checked once a month.

“I think it will also give them some perspective on how much water people really use,” said Pishkur.

More than 17,000 new meters have already been installed. The city expects to spend $1.5 million each year for the next seven years to replace the rest of them. 

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