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Smart meter installation is underway

GARYVILLE — More than 2,800 smart water meters have been installed in the Garyville and Cambridge areas, and it won’t be long before all of St. John the Baptist Parish has access to new meters with accurate leak detection and improved residential and commercial services.

In December 2019, Greenup Industries Inc. was awarded a $5.27 million contract for the installation of 16,941 residential meters, 382 commercial meters and 10 fire hydrant meters. The company partnered with Aclara Technology and began working on the project in January 2020. Trainings on installation and smart meter software were conducted in September 2020, and initial installations began the following month.

Greenup Industries Inc. owner Rodney Greenup, a St. John Parish resident, said the construction phase breaks the parish into six areas or “water cycles.” There are approximately 14,000 smart meters left to install, and Greenup is hopeful they will all be in the ground by summer 2021.

St. John Parish Chief Financial Officer Robert Figuero said installations are simultaneously taking place in Cycles 05 and 07. The order for the remainder of the project, based on population and continuity, is as follows:

  • Cycle 05 – Garyville
  • Cycle 07 – Cambridge, Belle Pointe, New 51
  • Cycle 03 – Belle Terre, Riverlands, Carollwood
  • Cycle 02 – Old LaPlace (Old 51, Old Riverlands, Park Place, River Forest, LaPlace Park)
  • Cycle 01 – Reserve
  • Cycle 06 – West Bank

“Internally, once a meter is installed, it can be read on an hourly basis through the Parish’s meter data management system,” Figuero said. “However, the Customer Portal will not go live until all meters are installed Parish-wide.”

Information will be sent to all residents explaining how to log on and navigate the Customer Portal with a computer or smart phone. Instructions will also be put on all Parish communication outlets.

There are several measures in place to prevent inflated water bills under the new technology, according to Figuero. This includes the ability to monitor consumption on an hourly basis and in real time for leak detection for more accurate readings. Individuals will also be able to set up alerts for water consumption that exceeds a certain threshold.

Greenup said part of the installation process involves attaching a data collector to track water usage back to the billing system.

“We program it so that address is connected to that data collector, and we know how much water is being used immediately, every second of every day. Currently, the system requires people to go around and manually read the meters,” Greenup said. “If the new system were in place a couple of weeks ago, the Parish would have been able to identify leaks because of the freeze almost immediately. Seeing the spikes of water usage in real time would have allowed the parish to be able to respond a lot faster. The information and the amount of data are going to be very helpful to the parish, and hopefully to the residents also.”

The new residential meters and the meter radios that transmit readings to the Parish’s data management system both have 20-year warranties, according to Figuero.

The estimated completion date for the project is May 21, 2021. However, it is likely this will be extended due to delays imposed by COVID-19.
“COVID interrupted our supply chain and impacted our subcontractors,” Greenup said.

He explained that rolling furloughs made it difficult to communicate with the subcontractor’s employees at various points throughout 2020. Additionally, suppliers on the technology side and shipping of materials and parts to make the meters were significantly delayed during the pandemic.

Greenup said residents can help ensure the remainder of the project runs smoothly and as quickly as possible.

“The biggest thing is locating the meters. If the residents can clean the grass from around their meters so it’s easy to identify when our folks show up, that helps a lot,” Greenup said. “If the box itself is full of debris or dirt from years of neglect, you have to clean that before we can take the old meter out and put the new meter in. The cleaner the box, the better for us.”

Greenup Industries Inc. has been in the community since its launch in December 2012. Up until around 2018, much of the company’s work dealt with industrial plants up and down the river. While Greenup also does work in Texas, Alabama, Georgia and Washington State, recent efforts have been focused in Louisiana’s River Parish corridor.

Greenup is contracted to work on the West Shore Lake Pontchartrain Levee Project and the Upper Barataria Risk Reduction Project in addition to the water meters. The company has a corporate office on Veterans Boulevard in Kenner, a field office in Norco and a warehouse in Reserve.

For more information about Greenup Industries, please visit greenupind.com.