At the July 18 meeting, the City Council heard from a city water customer who is frustrated with the delay in getting her water meter replaced, and wanted to know if this is a chronic problem for other customers.

Bridget O’Neill has been waiting for a new water meter for 10 months, and in the interim, has been billed by the city at an averaged rate.

O’Neill speculated that she is probably not the only one with a failed water meter.

Mayor Bhasker called on City Finance Director Ruby Lopez to address the concern. She said that an order for 300 water meters has been placed, and the problem should be remedied soon.

Mayor Ravi Bhasker said, “The planning was not there…. and it woke us up…. but the cost of water meters has increased about 40-50%, and the budgets are dwindling.”

In a subsequent phone call to Lopez and city utility billing clerk Marcella Alvarado, Lopez clarified the situation, confirming that approximately 100 meters (out of 4,293) have dead batteries or bad electronic recorders. The meters are still calculating usage but require a manual read.

Lopez explained that a dead battery or electronic component cannot simply be switched out as those meters are now obsolete, and a new one must be installed. The new meters cost $214 each, and the funding comes out of the Capital Improvements and also Repair and System Maintenance budgets.

Alvarado said the city has one meter reader for water and one for gas, so detection of failed meters occurs monthly in the same way that Socorro’s water billing is on a monthly cycle.

Lopez said that the old meter replacments are currently in progress.


Jay Ann Cox, El Defensor Chieftain Editor