The El Dorado Water Utilities will convene a specially-called meeting at 9 a.m. today at the El Dorado Municipal Auditorium as part of a long-running effort resolve an issue regarding outdated technology in the city's water meters and settle the matter with the company who manufactured the meters.
The resolution will likely come with a special rate increase for EWU customers.
The EWU, its Water Advisory Board and the El Dorado Water and Public Works Board have been working to address the issue since early 2021 when Robert Edmonds, director of public works, and John Peppers, general manager of the EWU, announced that the city's water meters may have to be replaced by this year.
In February 2021, Edmonds and Peppers told city officials that the technology for the city's cellular-based water meters -- nearly 10,000 of which were purchased and installed in 2015 and 2016 at a cost of $2.2 million -- was expected to be obsolete by the end 2021.
The pair explained that bandwidth for the meters' transmitters will no longer be used because wireless carriers are decommissioning the transmitters and upgrading to new ones.
The meters were manufactured by Badger Meter, a water metering technology and flow solutions company, and installed by Utility Metering Solutions -- a product-independent firm specializing in the design, build, integration and maintenance of utility programs.
The meters came with a 10-year warranty and while the warranty is still good, the transmitters are not expected to be, Edmonds and Peppers said.
Now, the city must address the issue by 2023, Edmonds said, adding that ongoing discussions with Badger -- including correspondence by attorneys -- have been futile.
City officials have said that the matter boils down to the cost of replacing the transmitters; how to cover the cost; if the 10-year warranty includes network coverage; and if Badger adequately explained whether the warranty comes with network coverage.
The purpose of today's special meeting is to hash out the details of a proposed water rate adjustment for EWU customers, Peppers said.