Lawton_New water meters will flood the City of Lawton in October. The City of Lawton says the old water meters - some as old as twenty years - have needed an upgrade for some time. Some are so old that they no longer read accurately. The city says new high-tech meters will not only be more accurate, they'll also save the city big bucks.
The new meters will be more efficient in detecting leaks, and will probably cut down on residents' water bills. However, one city council member says the $10.8 million investment is a mistake. Bob Shanklin, City Council Representative for Ward 5, says he didn't vote for the new meters, and insists no one else should have, either.
By October, Assistant Director of Water, Rusty Whisenhunt, says the city will be replacing the old water meters with meters that are state-of-the-art. "As they get close to the facility they will punch in the address and it will download like a radio - much like a blue tooth or cell phone would - only it's through radio telemetry," he said. However, Shanklin says it's too hefty of an investment. "[It's as if] I've got a wife and four kids, living in a two-room shack, and sitting out there is a brand new Cadillac! A brand new Cadillac! That's how bad we need this," he said.
The new meters will draw more revenue for the City of Lawton - so much that the meters are guaranteed to pay for themselves in 15 years. "The type of water meters we use, they under read, so if it reads that they used 1,000, they may have actually used 1,100 gallons," said Whisenhunt. However, Shanklin says it's for that reason he thinks you'll be paying more for your water. "Poor people can't do it now, they can't even pay their damn bill," he said.
The company providing the meters - Chevron - has guaranteed that the meters will pay for themselves in a relatively short time. The city says you should see savings add up, not losses. City taxpayers didn't have to cough up a penny for the $11 million investment in the new meters. The money was loaned from the Water Sources Board, and the replacement of nearly 30,000 meters is expected to be complete in about 16 months.