VALDOSTA — Starting in a little more than a week, Valdosta's water metering system goes high-tech.

The city starts replacing water meters with new models Aug. 24 in a project expected to last six months, according to a city of Valdosta statement.

The new German-made meters will allow the city to remotely read meter data hourly, creating the ability to track system leaks and reduce meter-reading costs.

Installation of the new meters alongside advanced metering infrastructure from Smart Earth Technologies will increase billing accuracy, the statement said.

The first routes scheduled for installation are billing routes 13, 14, and 15 which consist of the entire Wood Valley area and the Gornto Road, Jerry Jones Drive, Eager Road, Country Club Drive, Norman Drive and North St Augustine Road neighborhoods.

The route also includes Louis Lane, Terrace Blvd, Mack Drive, Howell Brook Drive, Pinecrest Drive, Clyde Avenue, Newbern Street and Berkley Drive. 

The installation for this route is scheduled to take place from Aug. 24 through Sept. 14, the statement said.

Water cutoffs during installation are expected to be brief, and the installation of the new meters will be at no cost to customers. The project has been budgeted at $9.5 million.

Public meetings on the water project will be held very other week on Mondays at Mathis Auditorium, starting Aug. 17 at noon and 5 p.m.

Valdosta residents will receive free access to a web-based customer portal, allowing them to see their water consumption in near real-time and set personalized alerts in the event of leaks, possible pipe-freezing incidents, and vacation notifications. 

Money and water-saving tips will be provided to help customers better manage their water consumption, the statement said.

None of the 10 city employees who read the meters will lose their jobs, Valdosta City Manager Mark Barber said in January.

"The City of Valdosta is excited to offer our customers access to the newest IoT technologies to help them identify household leaks, protect their property, and better manage their water," Darryl Muse, director of utilities, said in a statement. "Not only will these new investments improve customer service, but they will also help increase efficiency and reduce utility operating costs. Our goal is to then pass these savings on to our customers."

For more information on the new smart water network and answers to frequently asked questions, visit www.valdostacity.com/utilities/new-utility-smart-meters.

Terry Richards is senior reporter at The Valdosta Daily Times.

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