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Sistersville Seeks Better Water Meters

By Staff | Feb 10, 2016

SISTERSVILLE – City Council discussed Monday water infrastructure issues that Mayor Bill Rice wants to see addressed and adopted an ordinance that prohibits using electronic devices while driving.

Rice said the city needs to shore up its water loss rate by repairing water lines and moving forward toward the purchase of radio-read water meters. He said though the city pumps out about 3 million gallons of water per month, it bills for only about 1.6 million gallons. High water loss rates like this are reasonably common through small to medium sized water systems across the state.

The state’s Public Service Commission’s (PSC) standards require that utilities’ “unaccounted for” lost water is no more than 15 percent of the total water pumped.

Rice said it is necessary to reduce the city’s water loss rate so that it can potentially connect with the Tyler Public Service District’s water system. Toward that end, Rice wants the council to consider purchasing radio-read meters that will reduce costs.

Rice said the water meters would cost about $180 each for a total cost between $130,000 and $171,000 to replace the meters.

He said the meters would provide more accurate water bills by reducing human error and saving money through more efficient readings.

Rice asked if council would place on March’s meeting agenda a discussion geared toward the possible purchase of new meters. He said that for the past two years, there has been little more than discussion about making infrastructure improvements, so maybe it is time to act.

“I want to move this along,” Rice said.

This discussion and perhaps any decision would take place before the city’s election March 24 when four new council members would be elected.

In other matters, council adopted an ordinance aimed at prohibiting the use of an electronic device while driving. Anyone who violates the electronic device ordinance cellphones will have the matter adjudicated by City Court. The state has similar laws regarding restrictions on the use of electronic devices while driving. The new ordinance went into effect Tuesday. Drafted by Officer Alex Northcraft so as to better fit with city code, the ordinance is a virtual carbon copy of the state law prohibiting such devices while driving.

Fines will be paid to the city as determined by the city judge. State law defines limits to how much a city judge can fine someone which is actually in the ordinance, according to city officials.

In other business, Charles Pancake, a member of the city’s Park and Pool board, suggested that City Hall consider leasing property at the city’s park to temporary recreational vehicle campers. He said the city might be able to earn some money by renting spots to RV enthusiasts who stay at the park on a temporary basis not for weeks at a time.

Council member Tonya Tippins said she was concerned that the park might get messed up by some of these overnight guests.

Pancake said the park would be strictly policed and guests would be made aware of restrictions in advance of their stay. He cited a recent trip to a campground in Amish country that showed that if anyone stepped out of line, they would be asked to leave the park.

In other park news, the city’s Park and Pool Board is accepting applications for all positions. Applicants must be 16-years-old or older to apply for any of the jobs. The shut-off date for the applications will be March 31. Please pick up applications at City Hall.

Also, council re-appointed all members to its Park and Pool Board as well as reappointed Connie Boyd to the city’s Planning Commission.

And finally, council members briefly discussed the water crisis issue facing Flint, Mich. Rice said the city’s water quality was tested after the blue algae scare last fall. He said the state didn’t report any issues then arising from the water quality like those in Michigan, but that the city’s water quality complies with state state standards.