Mansfield City Engineer Bob Bianchi advises City Council in the spring of 2019 to proceed with an $18 million city-wide replacement program for its water meter and data collection system. (Richland Source file photo)

MANSFIELD -- A $17 million citywide water meter replacement project, in the works for nearly a year, will begin May 28, according to Public Works Director David Remy.

In the next week, Remy said Thursday, a targeted group of water service customers will receive postcards with the City of Mansfield logo and also the logo of Aclara SGS, the SUEZ-contracted company installing the new meters.

"These postcards are authorized by the City of Mansfield and will request the resident call Aclara SGS at the listed number to schedule a time when their water meter can be replaced," Remy said.

City engineer Bob Bianchi, who has said the project is necessary to replace aging water meters with a new and more accurate system, told City Council members in 2019 the new system will pay for itself through increased revenue. Council approved the program May 21, 2019.

He said also the city produces 9.5 million gallons of water per day, yet only collects revenue on 3.8 millions per day, largely due to aging, inaccurate meters. He said other losses, including water line leaks, water main breaks and fire hydrant flushing do constitute some portion of the difference.

"This is important. I cannot stress enough how important this is," Bianchi told council in early April 2019. "This is the foundation of the revenue that's associated with (other) projects we talk about. If we have a shaky foundation, we know what potentially could happen."

Remy said initial installations will take place over a period of a week to 10 days, followed by internal testing of the new meters and data collection system.

"Once system testing is completed, the full program for replacement of all Mansfield water meters will start in earnest in mid to late June of this year and will continue to take place on a phased schedule throughout the remainder of the year and into 2021," Remy said.

The director said Aclara SGS personnel operate in compliance Ohio's COVID 19 guidelines, relative to the wearing of personal protective equipment, sanitizing of the work area and practicing social distancing.

"These protective measures will remain in place as long as such guidelines are deemed necessary by the city and state," Remy said.

The target area for the initial installation of new meters will be the Cook and Trimble roads neighborhood, as well as the Springbrook and Royal Oak allotment areas.

"These areas were chosen due to the predictable configuration of the meter setting present and the relatively new plumbing present in the homes. This will allow a large group of meters to be replaced in a short timeframe and permit effective testing of the new data collection system," Remy said.

All city water customers are required to have their water service metered, and those meters must be connected to an operational remote reading device.

The vast majority of water meters are located inside the serviced premise either in the basement, a crawl space or hot water tank area. In all situations the current meters, no matter their age, will be replaced with new equipment and a new remote reading device will be installed, according to Remy.

"All customers are strongly encouraged to work in cooperation with Aclara SGS by allowing them to change out water meters and install the remote readers," Remy said.

Anyone with questions can call the utility collections department at the dedicated number listed in the meter replacement booklet mailed out in March or contact Remy's office at 419-755-9628.

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City editor. 30-year plus journalist. Husband. Father of 3 grown sons and also a proud grandpa. Prior military journalist in U.S. Navy, Ohio Air National Guard. -- Favorite quote: "Where were you when the page was blank?"