While it may be that the city of Placerville is the largest customer for EID water, the suggestion in the Mountain Democrat editorial of Feb. 5 for installing remotely readable water meters in Placerville as a money-saving measure has no basis in fact. Meter accuracy in Placerville was recently surveyed with just such an idea in mind, and the savings apparently are not sufficient to pay for the meter installations. There are only about 3,000 meters for Placerville customers, and changing water meters would only reduce the city workforce by one employee, and leave one more person without a job. The cost of new meters is many times that one salary, and remote water meters leave no one on the ground to observe and report leaks, breaks or other problems so they can be repaired.
The first suggestion in your editorial for Placerville is the only sensible action: upgrade the water delivery system. Many of the current water mains for Placerville have been in use for over 70 years. They are the poster child for the effects of neglect — or maybe I should use the politically correct term “deferred maintenance.” However, 70 years is way past even the deferred maintenance life expectancy for galvanized iron pipes. Some of these water mains have so much rust and corrosion buildup that the amazing thing is that they deliver water at all. That leakage is in the thousands of gallons should be no surprise to anyone.
The fact is that a water meter of whatever design only measures use — a meter does not save one single drop of precious water. Replacing leaking and broken pipes would save significant amounts of our precious water resource. Placerville does not need new meters. Placerville needs new pipes.