City wants all residents on new water meters by end of year

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Out of the 40,000 water meters that need to be read in the city of South Bend, about a quarter of them still must be read by a person walking up to the meter. The city wants to get all homeowners and residents converted to the new meters that transmit a radio signal by the end of the year.

Water meter reader Paul Beck walks about 20 miles a day trudging through yards, reading water meters on the sides of homes and businesses.

"It's a lot of walking. I get to meet a lot of people; some good, some bad; you meet a lot of dogs; some good, some bad; and I enjoy my job,” said Beck.

Beck has been a meter reader since 2000.

But all that walking could be a thing of the past if the water department gets everyone switched over to water meters that transmit a signal that can be picked up from a car driving by.

"Aside from the fact that of not having anyone walk through their yard, their meters are also read on a more consistent basis,” said Scott Horvath, Assistant Director Distribution South Bend Water Works.

It took several minutes for beck to read three meters.

It took fellow meter reader Dennis Vangoey seconds to read 10 times that many.

"There's probably 30-some in here, and we should pick up all of them,” said Vangoey.

In addition to the speed of reading the meters, the radio meter system can detect problems such as a leak that has been running for 24 hours straight

That’s something non-radio meter readers may miss.

"If I see a leak on a lot of these places, I'll go knock on their door and say, 'Hey, you've got something going on here,'” said Vangoey.

It has been 10 years since the water department started using radio meters, but not everyone has one yet.

"Our biggest problem has always been getting into the homes to be able to get to the meter to change it,” said Horvath.

The water department has been calling people to set up times to install a radio meter.

If you don't want to wait, you can call 3-1-1 and they will get you in touch with the proper person to schedule an appointment.

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