City approves water system contracts

Steve Hansen
QCS Managing Editor

The Tucumcari City Commission approved contracts Thursday for improvements to the city water system that include a 400,000-gallon water tank and the purchase and installation of new meters that can be read by remote control.

Engineering America, Inc., Oakdale, Minn., received the contract for the water tank. Its sole bid totaled nearly $515,800, about $4,000 less than the city’s estimated cost for the project. The tank will be built near Five-Mile park west of the city.

The council also approved two contracts for acquisition and installation of the new meters.

One, for a “fixed-base advance radio-read water meter system,” will cost nearly $842,900 to assemble. The contract is for the purchase of 1,700 water meters to measure water flow in pipes ranging from 5/8-inch to 2-inch diameters, and an equal number transceiver units that allow remote reading.

The winning bid was submitted by a joint venture of KBK Construction of Grants and Western Industrial Supply, Inc. of Denver, Colo. The other, for “installation of advanced radio-read water meters” was awarded to New Image Construction, Inc., of Ribera, for nearly $175,000.

Remote-control meters should save money by giving more accurate reads than are currently available with many of the city’s meters that are 30-plus years old, City Manager Doug Powers said. In addition savings will occur in meter-reading costs and the radio-controlled meters’ ability to locate leak problems in real time, Powers said.

Old, inaccurate meters were cited in a 2011 study of Tucumcari’s water financing and billing by the Rural Community Assistance Corporation, funded by U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development. The report characterized meters as the system’s “cash registers.”

Powers said faulty meters were the likely cause of a huge difference between water apparently pumped into the system and water sold to customers. According to the 2011 report, Tucumcari pumped nearly 435.7 million gallons of water in 2009 and sold 231 million gallons, leaving a discrepancy of 204.6 million gallons.

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