Over a couple of thousand new water meters arrived for the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. as it continues its effort to address faulty meters on Saipan and hopes to complete installation in the next coming weeks.
According to CUC acting executive director Gary Camacho, the arrival of the 2,300 water meters is part of their “aggressive meter change out program.”
“As previously reported there are a lot of issues with a lot of water meters on island and CUC has since implemented an aggressive water meter replacement program to address those meters,” Camacho said.
Camacho added that they initiated the program for a couple of weeks now and is a co-joint effort with water division personnel and billing section.
They hope to finish the program in five weeks, after which “a complete review and assessment will be made to determine how we continue on the program,” Camacho said.
“This program that we implemented addresses two issues, one of them is water loss and also, customers can now get an accurate billing of their accounts,” Water Division operations supervisor Bernard Kermius said.
Kermius said they have nine teams currently working on the program.
According to water meter supervisor Glenn Dikito, they can change 15 to 18 water meters per crew member per day.
“A meter box if it’s clear, it can take anywhere about five to fifteen minutes, whereas if we find a box that’s full of mud or dirt, it will be harder for us,” Dikito said.
They have so far installed 600 water meters starting from areas where they have 24-hour water service beginning in Koblerville and working their way up to the northern side through San Jose and Gualo Rai.
Dikito said the current meters, the Sensus meters, are expected to last longer.
“The smart meters, they are all metal but these [Sensus] meters its base is plastic now. The tendency of the smart meter, it will leak from the base where there are four bolts, it will leak between the gaskets or the metal itself gets eaten up because our water we have chlorine. Chlorine and the type of metal which is brass do not get along,” Dikito said.
“We haven’t had major problems with these,” he added
According to accounts and financial manager Betty Terlaje, CUC has over 9,000 active water accounts on Saipan.
Based on active accounts and what is seen in the billing system, about 4,000 accounts were reported to have malfunctioning meters to U.S Environmental Protection Agency last year.
This number went down to around 2,100 last month and it continues to go down as CUC continues to install new meters.
“The delay in the progress is really the delay in the receiving of the meters. Now that we have 2,000 meters, that number can easily be washed out,” Terlaje said.
However, Dikito said they might need to change more meters on island and eventually replace the older ones that are prone to malfunctioning. Terlaje noted that new accounts are being added as well.
“I assume that there will be more because of the older meters that are malfunctioning out there,” Dikito said.
CUC said they will order more meters as their inventory goes down.