DeKalb County’s government plans to begin replacing 102,000 water meters this year that are at risk of failure and may contribute to inaccurate bills.
DeKalb CEO Mike Thurmond said in a statement Thursday these meters are either potentially defective or outside their 15-year life span.
Thousands of residents have complained about high water bills in DeKalb, with extreme bills of thousands of dollars. Thurmond said he's committed to fixing the problem, which is caused by malfunctioning meters, estimated bills, data inaccuracies and meter installation mistakes.
"Implementing a large-scale meter replacement program will take time, but is a substantial step to restore faith in the accuracy of meter readings and water bills," Thurmond said.
The meter replacement program, which covers 55 percent of the county's 184,000 small meters, will begin by the end of this year.
The model and cost of the meters will be determined when the county solicits bids and then the DeKalb Board of Commissioners votes on a contractor.
Water meters generally cost about $100 each, plus labor and installation expenses. At that rate, the total will exceed $10.2 million.
About 62,000 meters are outside of their life span, and 40,000 more manufactured before 2014 have potential factory defects. Some of these old Sensus iPerl meters malfunction when rainwater or other moisture gets inside.
The county will also replace 7 percent of its meters each year in the future, Thurmond said.
“This will ensure that we never have deficient, out-of-life cycle water meters again,” he said.
Mark Niesse covers voting rights and elections for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He also reports on the Georgia House of Representatives and government. He has been a reporter at the AJC since 2013 following a decade at The Associated Press in Atlanta, Honolulu and Montgomery, Ala.