Update from City Administrator Don Morrison: The City of Bonney Lake water utility plans to take a sizable sample of all 3 meter types to a lab in Everett to be independently tested. These will be meters that serve many of the customers who have complained about their high consumption.
Any Bonney Lake customer can have their meter tested if they think it is inaccurately measuring the flow. There is a $50 test fee to do that. If the meter test shows that the meter was actually over-counting the actual amount of water used, the test fee and any accompanying water payment is refunded.
Folks should know however, that generally (about 80% of the time) as meters get older they tend to undercount the amount of water passed through, not over-count. So, if the meter is tested and found to be either over or under measuring the water, the meter is replaced. If a customer had an undercounting meter, they will see higher consumption and thus higher bills thereafter. Unfortunately, it goes both ways.
The water meters the City uses are highly accurate and dependable water measuring devices. Located in a small box in the ground near the street or the edge of the property, it registers all the water used in your home. Some of our meters have electronic reading devices that allow the meter reader to drive or walk past your home and pick up the meter reading remotely. However, the remote-read meters are of the same design as manual read meters with manual read dials that are always the official read in case a question comes up regarding the accuracy of the electronic reading.
The design of the water meter does not allow for anyone to adjust the dials or tamper with the accuracy of the meter. Much like an automobile or other mechanical device, the meter slows down with age and eventually can stop registering completely, but it cannot arbitrarily run faster than it was designed to run. The mechanical parts are not capable of “speeding up” or registering a significantly higher reading than actual. Having a meter register 20,000 gallons of consumption when the usage was actually 4,000 gallons would be like a vehicle with a maximum speed of 100 mph suddenly being able to intermittently run at speeds of 500 mph; it isn’t mechanically possible.
All meters are calibrated and tested in the factory before they are shipped. The American Water Works Association requires meters to be within 98.5 and 101.5% accuracy to be usable. This means an error rate of 1.5% low or high.
Several consumer education resources have been added to the Utility Billing page on the City website at www.citybonneylake.org/utilities, including FAQs, utility plans and reports, and helpful brochures.