News Feature | February 25, 2016

In Silver City, A Clash Between Smart Meters And Aging Pipes

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,
@sarmje

newmexico.newmexico

Sometimes aging infrastructure makes smart meter installation difficult. In Silver City, NM, officials are running into this challenge during a smart meter project that has already seen 450 devices installed.

Town Manager Alex Brown spoke to the Silver City Daily Press about the complications.

“Because the infrastructure is so old downtown there have been quite a few problems,” Brown said. “I know of at least two leaks caused by the changing of the meters because everything is so old. So it is just taking longer.”

New Mexico’s cities, like cities across the country, are facing massive water infrastructure challenges. Experts say the state will need $933 million to spend on drinking water infrastructure over the next 20 years. The American Society of Civil Engineers assessed the status of water pipes in New Mexico:

Many of New Mexico’s potable water systems are deteriorating at an ever-increasing rate due to the age of the systems. The systems have been serving their communities very well over the years with safe reliable water, but routine maintenance and rehabilitation must be increased for there to be any chance of keeping up with the sustainability goal for future generations.

Another hiccup for the smart meter project: The town is home to a vocal contingent of smart meter opponents.

“Public input at town meetings over the past several months has been often dominated by a group of opponents to the new meters, based on their concerns that range from negative health effects to invasion of privacy by the new technology,” the report said.

The opponents held a protest before a city meeting, according to a previous Silver City Daily Press report:

About a dozen protesters wielding picket signs with “Keep Silver City smart meter free!” and “Smart meters mean higher utility bills” filled the audience. The town has, for months, been the target of criticism over its decision to install “smart water meters,” which use quick bursts of radio signal to keep town utility employees up-to-date on leaks and water usage. The town approved financing for the meters two months ago, and has been planning for the system for several years, but a growing group of opponents claim the meters cause terrible symptoms by tricking the immune system into thinking the body is ill.

Experts say concerns around the safety of smart meters are based around easily-debunkable myths. “To be blunt, many of the concerns and fears over smart meters are downright farcical,” Wall Street Daily reported.

For more on smart metering, visit Water Online’s AMR, AMI And Metering Solutions Center.

Image credit: "I­40 Westbound from Albuquerque, New Mexico 3," © 2010 Ken Lund, used under an Attribution­ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en