(TNS) — The Texas Water Development Board approved Thursday financial assistance totaling $18.37 million from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund to the city of Abilene for planning, design, and construction of a water meter replacement project.
The city could save around $2.7 million over the life of the loan by using the fund, according to a news release from the TWDB.
Rodney Taylor, Abilene director of water utilities, said that the project involves replacing existing meters with "smart meters" in a centralized system that will allow those meters to be read electronically through radio connections.
"It will allow our consumers to have access to a lot of detailed information about their individual accounts by going onto a website," he said.
According to the TWDB, the city will replace around 43,500 water meters with automated readers that include leak detection capabilities.
The new meters will allow the city’s customers to access their water account information and allow the city to better track water resources.
The city anticipates saving approximately 65 million gallons of water per year from the new meter installation.
The project was conceived a year or two ago, then discussed with the Abilene City Council in recent budget talks and in a special evening workshop a few months ago, Taylor said.
"Obviously, the City Council will have to give a final blessing on the project before it is official, and they still have the right at this point to approve or deny the project," he said.
Taylor said he anticipated the council would formally act early in 2018, likely around February.
Much of the project's potential hinged on getting good, low-interest loans, he said.
"We developed a budget for the project that includes engineering, design, legal and financial consulting such as a bond counsel that will also be funded out of the proceeds for this project," he said. "But the bulk of it is going toward the purchase of these meters and to have them install and all of the infrastructure that goes along with this."
One of the next steps is to request bids from companies or vendors that provide services such as meters and installation. That will help establish the true cost of the project as far as construction and installation.
"We expect that to probably be a couple of million dollars less than this amount," he said. "But until we really get bids in we don't know exactly what the number is going to look like."
The Texas Water Development Board approved financial assistance totaling $22.97 million for water and wastewater system projects Thursday.
In addition to the Abilene loan, the board approved $2 million in financial assistance to the city of Gorman in Eastland County for water system improvements.
The assistance consists of a $1 million loan and $1 million in loan forgiveness, from the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund.
The city of Gorman will use the money to replace about 25,000 linear feet of piping and replace water meters with electronic readers. The project will help reduce water loss within the system. The TWDB previously financed the planning and design phases of this project.
The Texas Water Development Board is the state agency charged with collecting and disseminating water-related data, assisting with regional planning, and preparing the state water plan for the development of the state’s water resources.
©2017 the Abilene Reporter-News (Abilene, Texas) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.