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West Columbia begins installing new water meters, hoping to increase water bill accuracy

Some black dots are popping up on the top of water meters in West Columbia and they are being used to track water usage almost instantly.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — It might not look like it, but some new black dots on top of West Columbia water meters are making big changes.

New water meters in West Columbia are beginning to pop up in neighborhoods, aimed at more accurate billing information.

According to West Columbia Mayor Tem Miles, the conversation around installing new meters is one that began 10 years ago, as he learned aging systems might have been giving false readings.

"As they were approaching the end of that serviceable life, they weren't accurately collecting the amount of water that was being run through them. There's also times when due to manpower issues we were able to  get out and check the meters every two months and in those scenarios, we would have to occasionally issue an estimated bill." He says.

He adds that because of this old system, residents would occasionally have leaks in their pipes and not notice until they received a large bill.

He says the city has begun installing new automated water meters as part of a program aimed at fixing those issues with inaccuracy. 

"We will continue to take a reading - without a person going out and looking at the meter, every fifteen minutes. And as a result, if there's this flow of water, we will automatically notify the customer."

Miles explains with a more accurate reading, some customers may find their bill increase, while others may see theirs decrease, information that won't be known for another two months when bills are sent out. He also tells us the city plans to install the new automatic meters on all 16,000  of the current meters in West Columbia.

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