O’Fallon Updates Its Water Meters – Why Not St. Louis?
O’Fallon (which, if it continues to grow like it has during the past decade, will soon be the largest city in North America) is replacing its water meters with updated, more accurate versions. Good for O’Fallon. The changes will give water users more information about their usage, and allow them to adjust accordingly:
The new meters use radio signals to provide real-time readings accessible to customers online, which means residents should be able to spot potential problems or abnormalities in their average monthly water use.
Easier access to better information is always a good combination. But the best part of the article is not about O’Fallon. The best part is that it gives us a very good estimate of what it would cost the city of St. Louis to install water meters in the first place. If you frequent this blog you are probably aware that the city of St. Louis does not use water meters for home water use. In my opinion, that is insane.
If it costs O’Fallon $5.8 million to replace 15,000 meters, we can estimate it would cost the city of St. Louis $34 million to install water meters for its 87,000 residential customers without meters. That is approximately $390 per residential customer, and that number ignores the likelihood that the cost per unit would likely be lower for an order six times larger. Residents would then be able to adjust to higher water rates by using less water, something that businesses in the city are already doing.
Of course, I think the entire water division should be privatized in St. Louis, as well as in Kansas City, Springfield, Kirkwood, and Columbia. But at least those other cities make use of water meters. Privatized or not, the city and its water customers should expend the necessary funds to install and operate water meters.