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SEND IN THE HUMANS: Meter readers help Punta Gorda as 8,000 meters are offline

Olameter, a meter reading company from Wisconsin, will manually read meters while faulty ones are repaired.
Posted at 8:34 PM, Mar 25, 2024

PUNTA GORDA, Fla. — It's official: meter readers have arrived in Punta Gorda to help get the city’s water utility billing system back on track, after 8000 water meters failed.

In 2017, around 14,000 water meters were installed across the city with technology capable of sending water usage to the city’s billing department without manually reading the meter.

According to Assistant City Manager Melissa Reichert, approximately 8000 of those meters are now offline.

“In some instances it's just a battery that needs to be replaced, and in other instances it's a whole meter that will have to be reset,” said Reichert.

Without functioning meters, affected customers are receiving estimated bills based on last year’s usage.

On March 6, Punta Gorda’s City Council voted to approve a year-long $319,800 contract with a Wisconsin based meter reading company Olameter to manually read meters while city staff repair the faulty ones.

“Our staff estimates right now that about 1200 meters can be repaired per month if we have the equipment in stock to be able to do that,” said Reichert.

The city does have the option to end the contract before the year term if the meter readers are no longer needed. Additionally, Reichert said the goal of the repairs is to restore meter's automatic reading functions.

The Olameter employees will start reading meters on March 27.