The company that sold thousands of faulty water meters to DeKalb County, contributing to widespread billing issues, has agreed to a multi-million dollar settlement.
The agreement, approved by the DeKalb Board of Commissioners Tuesday, amounts to $8.64 million in equipment and labor. It includes 47,000 replacement meters and 30,000 new radio transmitters, plus reprogramming for another 17,500 transmitters. All the equipment will be installed at no charge to the county within the next two years.
“This is a major step forward in improving the quality of service for our customers and restoring trust and credibility to the system,” DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond said on Tuesday.
Kendall Supply and Sensus USA agreed to deliver and install the meters and transmitters to settle DeKalb’s claim that 50,000 meters installed between 2011 and 2015 had a manufacturing defect associated with the iPERL model.
Amid customer outcry over inaccurate water bills, the Board of Commissioners agreed in October 2016 to stop installing iPERL meters. However, thousands of the flawed models were already in use.
The new meters will be the AccuSTREAM model, which the county described as more durable and more compatible with the radio system used to track water consumption remotely. Thurmond credited new leadership at Sensus for agreeing to a settlement under the product warranty provisions.
Commissioner Jeff Rader, the presiding officer, said the settlement will allow DeKalb to replace a large number of bad meters quickly and at no cost to customers.
“Now we get to pull them all out of the ground at once, replace them with more reliable meters. … When we looked at our options of doing that same thing, using a different vendor, that cost was much higher,” he said.
The county will shoulder the cost of installing another 54,000 meters this year. Thurmond, who took office in January 2017, said he is working hard to move beyond the billing issues that have plagued the county for years.
About 4,000 customers were contacting the county every month to dispute their water bill, he said. That number is now down to about 300, Thurmond said.
“It was an embarrassing decision to buy and install that many defective meters, but today hopefully we’re moving in a new direction,” he said. “I know we are.”
VIDEO: In other DeKalb news
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