The Belfast Water District announces that workers will begin replacing old water meters in the system with new radio-read meters starting this month. There is no charge to the customer to have the meter changed.

The new meters are needed for a number of reasons. Many meters in the system now are at or beyond the recommended usable life of a water meter. The new meters are NSF 61-compliant. This is a federal regulation that governs the amount of lead that can be in the brass bodies of the meters. The district will be able to get a lot more information from the new meters that will help customers with such problems as high water use and undetected leaks inside their house, resulting in severe damage in some extreme cases.

The radio-read meters can be read remotely by driving through the service areas. Those readings are then electronically uploaded to the billing system to produce the bills. This eliminates handwritten, paper records, reduces the amount of time and expense to get the meter readings and will be safer for the crew.

A third of the water meters are read and billed in the system each month, a process that takes 70 to 80 man-hours a month. When all the meters in the system are replaced, that time should be reduced to 16 to 24 man-hours. A total of approximately 450 water meters will be replaced throughout the entire system by November of this year. This is the start of a 3-to-4-year process that will eventually replace or upgrade all of the 1,950 meters in the system.

The Water District crew will be doing all the installations, beginning by going door to door and replacing the meters in homes and businesses where someone is there to let them in to do the replacement. If no one is there, a notice will be hung on the doorknob asking the customer to contact the Water District office to set up an appointment to do the change-out. If the office doesn’t receive a call in a few days, a letter will be sent out requesting an appointment be set up

The average time to replace a meter should be about 30 to 40 minutes. For any questions about this project call the Belfast Water District at 338-1200 between the hours of 7 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Or e-mail questions by going to the Contact tab on the district’s website,