Cleveland Utilities water meter project 'moving along'

Cleveland Utilities water meter project 'moving along'

June 30th, 2015 by Paul Leach in Local Regional News

Craig Mullinax

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- A Cleveland Utilities project to jump-start the conversion of 30,000 manual water meters to wireless "smart meters" is underway.

In a recent meeting, Water Engineering Department Manager Philip Luce discussed the conversion project with utility board members.

The conversion efforts are "moving along," said Luce, who reported that two contracted crews had replaced 2,269 standard meters with automated equipment since May 18.

The two crews have converted 10 manual water meter reading routes so far, and a third crew soon will be added to increase the rate of automated meter transition efforts, Luce said.

Recent conversion efforts have been accelerated by a $2.5 million loan through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Cleveland Utilities President and CEO Ken Webb has said.

Ken Webb

Ken Webb

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

The 20-year fixed-rate loan terms include $500,000 in loan forgiveness and give Cleveland Utilities a chance to cut the anticipated duration of the meter conversion process in half, Webb said.

The loan will fund the conversion of 15,000 meters — about 50 percent of the water customer base — and reduce the conversion timeframe by about three years, Webb said.

About 1,300 water meters were converted by means of an internal pilot program as of December 2014, water division officials said.

The new automated meters have proved useful as an early warning tool, Craig Mullinax, water division vice president, said last winter.

The wireless meters have alerted the water division to customer leaks and pipe bursts on a number of occasions, Mullinax said. With the old standard meters, such problems might go undetected until the monthly manual meter reading, he said.

Cleveland Utilities' electric division completed a similar automated meter conversion project in September 2012.

In other business, the water division is about halfway through a project to replace water lines on Steed Street, Park Avenue and Wesdell Lane.

Work on Steed Street and Park Avenue, comprising 1,766 feet of the 3,470 feet of waterline to be replaced, has been completed, Luce said.

Once the Wesdell Lane waterline replacement is completed, the water division will launch another line replacement project on McDonald School Road, he said. That project is scheduled to begin in July.

A comprehensive sewer rehabilitation program is about to enter a new phase along the major southeast corridors of Inman Street and Wildwood Avenue, according to the Cleveland Utilities' June wastewater report.

Over the last three years, rehabilitation efforts have been underway in the southern and northwest portions of Cleveland Utilities' wastewater network.

The program is intended to combat sewage overflows by repairing or replacing the worst areas of stormwater infiltration that occur through damaged pipes and manholes, said Greg Clark, who supervises Cleveland Utilities' wastewater rehabilitation efforts.

Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at