Editorial note: This story has been updated to correct two spelling errors. An earlier version of the story spelled out Council Member Steve Rocker, that has been changed to Council Member Steve Rockey. Also, the previous version said the water meters will be changed to automatic meters. That has been updated to say automated meters.

Friendswood will replace every water meter in the city following the city council’s decision to approve the project in a 6-1 vote on July 12.

“This is good solid technology,” Council Member Steve Rockey said. “It’s well known, well used, well explored. When they say it will last 20 years, it’s going to last 20 years.”The city council approved a $8,995,300 contract with Ameresco, an engineering services company, to work on the project that will include replacing over 14,000 mechanical water meters to automated ones and are expected to last for 20 years, City Manager Morad Kabiri said.

The automated meters will also allow people to track their water usage through an online portal that could alert residents to pipe leaks or bursts in real-time, Kabiri said, and they can even set up alerts for when the usage reaches certain thresholds.

The city believes this project will answer two concerns—reduce the need and cost of securing a contract for meter read services and also capture loss revenue from the current outdated mechanical metering system.

In October 2020, Friendswood appropriated $45,000 for Ameresco to run an audit on the city’s water meters. During the June 7 council meeting, the findings of the audit were presented.

In the June 7 meeting, Kabiri said the city was losing several hundred thousand if not more than $1 million worth in revenue.

The lone person not to support this contract was Council Member John Scott, who raised the concern that it will take eight or nine years to break even. Kabiri said if the city does not fix the water meters, the city’s cost will only increase.

“To not correct this situation is doing a disservice to our ratepayers collectively,” Kabiri said.

The replacement of the meters is not expected to begin until September at the earliest, Kabiri told Community Impact Newspaper.