McGregor Council considers MMU proposal to upgrade water meters


By Audrey Posten


At the Sept. 23 McGregor City Council meeting, council members considered a proposal from the McGregor Municipal Utilities (MMU) asking the council to help fund the purchase of new water meters.


The change out is necessary because, as of Jan. 1, 2014, there will be a change to the water supply rules that says any water meters installed or changed out can no longer use brass containing lead. According to the MMU, in a letter addressed to the council, the water meter suppliers are also no longer making remote read water meters that use an outside reader, but have instead switched to “touch” or “automatic radio” read meters.


The MMU Board would like to go with the automatic radio read system, which means that, within a certain range of the meter, the meter reader would be able to retrieve the readings with a handheld wand. Those readings would then be downloaded into computer software.


The MMU said the change out will garner significant expenses; they have proposed purchasing between 50 and 75 meters, which would cost an estimated $9,500 to $15,000 each year. As a result, they would like the city of McGregor to foot half of that bill—between $4,750 and $7,500 annually. 


Although the cost is extensive, the MMU said the new water meters would save money in other areas. Due to the more precise readings, usage will be billed sooner and water loss could be reduced. The meters would also record sewer usage.


The MMU Board said the system would be implemented over a five to ten-year period. They would like to purchase the first set of meters in December or January.


The MMU will also have to spend $9,000 to $9,800 for the purchase of the automatic software, handheld device, docking station and other fees to upgrade software.


The council members took no action regarding the proposal, but asked for more information about how long the meters would last, as well as how much time would be saved with the new meters and how that extra time would be used.


Turner Park

City Administrator Lynette Sander said there are at least three or four people interested in being on the Turner Park planning committee. The park board encourages more volunteers to join the committee, which will come up with ideas for new equipment and improvements at the park. 


Park planning will likely begin next month.


Opera house/hardware store

The council also accepted a bid for phase 1 mothballing work to be completed on the Sullivan Opera House/old hardware store. 


The work will include patching some areas of the roof, boarding broken windows, securing cornices, removing birds and other vermin from the building, repairing gutters and inspecting and shoring up the ground floor.

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