By LOHR McKINSTRY
---- — LEWIS — Essex County lawmakers hope a water meter can reduce a six-figure-a-year water bill at the County Jail and Public Safety Building.
The county buys water from the Town of Lewis at a bulk rate now and is currently paying more than $100,000 a year for the water used at the facility, which includes 120 beds for inmates.
At a recent County Board of Supervisors Public Works Committee session, Supervisor Roby Politi (R-North Elba) wanted to know when the meter would go in.
“Where are we with that, how much will it cost, how long will it take?” he asked.
Department of Public Works Superintendent Anthony LaVigne said the cost of a commercial water meter and installation is estimated at $70,000.
“We’re looking at a jail shutdown because it meters all the water that comes through the site. We’ll have to put in a bypass while construction is going on. We can do it relatively soon.”
The shutdown would mean no one at the jail could use toilet or shower facilities for a period during the bypass installation.
VAULT BULK OF COST
Politi said the Lake Placid Village Water Department might have a surplus water meter that would work.
“Why don’t you ask if by chance they have a meter on site?” he asked. “The cost (of a meter) is certainly excessive. This could possibly save a substantial amount of money.”
LaVigne said he would check with Lake Placid, but excavation for a meter vault is the bulk of the cost.
“You do have to have a vault,” Supervisor Thomas Scozzafava (R-Moriah) said. “You definitely will need a bypass. You’re not shutting down that facility.”
The building has an 8-inch main, which Scozzafava said is standard for structures of that size.
“There are huge (water cost) increases each year,” he said. “It would be nice to get a copy of their (Town of Lewis) local law and see how they determine their water rates.”
Supervisor David Blades (R-Lewis) said after the meeting that there are incremental rates for water in Lewis.
He said a distribution meter at the beginning of the Stowersville Road line is used to figure usage at the jail now, and other homes and businesses on the line have individual meters and are subtracted to come up with a figure for the county.
The reading doesn’t take into account any leakage, however, which county officials believe is occurring before the water gets to the jail.
A meter for the county facility was in the original plan for the building but was removed before construction to save money.
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