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Martins Ferry to help residents read water meters

Mayor John Davies tells City Council on Wednesday that city workers will begin helping residents read their meters if needed. T-L Photo/J.D. LONG

MARTINS FERRY — The struggle to replace water meter batteries and meter heads continues, Mayor John Davies told City Council during its Wednesday meeting.

“We still cannot get meters … so we’re putting together a plan,” Davies said.

That plan includes letters already sent to residents that should be received this week outlining the process of reading their meters.

Photos are to be taken of the two different meters the city has then placed on the city website for reference. The public can then fill out a form with their name, address and contact information, according to Service Director Andy Sutak. He said meter reading numbers are to be written left to right just as they show on the photos of the meters.

“So, it should be pretty explanatory. … If anybody has a problem, just call in to the utility office and we’ll try and explain what they need to do if there is any,” Sutak said, adding that it would take about three to four days for those forms to be live on the website.

Davies explained that when the current meters were put in, some were placed where they are difficult to read. In those cases, he said, the city will send someone to that house.

“If you don’t know how to read your meter we’re going to send somebody out, we’re going to show you how to read your meter,” Davies said. “… We’re going to schedule a time and we’re going to come and read your meter for you.”

He reminded council that East Ohio Regional Wastewater Authority is charging Martins Ferry customers an additional $11.38 monthly surcharge for estimated readings.

“That’s basically going to stop that charge altogether,” he said of the meter readings. “So, this is going to be on one project because we can’t get the meters. We ordered them in July and we’ve received zero. We don’t know when we’re going to get them or if we’re going to get them.”

Davies reminded council of the $649,000 cost of the updated meters that have not been delivered.

At the last meeting Jan. 5, Davies was asked about receiving a refund and trying to buy meters through another company. Davies had said that would be up to legal counsel.

On Wednesday, Davies said EORWA told him the surcharge would be “let go” until June 1.

“By then we’ll have it down to a science. By then that ought to take care of that issue charged on to sewer,” Davies continued. He said the alternative is to replace the entire meter system for $2 million and that he was not willing to go that route since residents would share that cost.

“Our meters aren’t broke, we just can’t radio read them because the batteries went dead,” he said.

He said was also not interested in digital meters because when their batteries die, the screen goes blank and workers “can’t read them at all.”

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