Water Service

Water Meter Improvement Project

Distribution guysIn an effort to improve service for its water customers, the Town is replacing the current water meters with meters that have radio-read capabilities. These new meters will create a more efficient system, reducing the time employees spend in the field reading meters and instead allowing them more time for maintenance and to respond to emergencies such as water line breaks. The improvement project started this week and will take several months to complete. However, we were able to test a few locations around Town, starting in January 2021, that determined this new system is a better option for the Town citizens.

Customers will be notified by Town of a replacement in their neighborhood via door hangers or phone call. Town employees do not need to enter residences to replace meters. The Water Crew will access the area where the meter is located. Water service is interrupted for approximately 10-15 minutes at each customer’s location during installation and testing. Going forward with this new system, the Water Crew will still require access to all meter boxes at any time pursuant to Friday Harbor Municipal Code. Please do not cover meter boxes or block them off from Town Crew access.

The new model is enabled with “smart meter technology” - the capability to use other remote devices to regularly transmit readings. These meters will start off by allowing drive-by readings collected by our Water Crew. The final goal to use this technology will allow for the wireless transmission of the customers’ water meter readings directly to Town Hall via regional collectors (base stations) located on existing water tanks and other structures. The meters can collect multiple reads per day as determined by a set schedule, allowing for better leak detection and improved customer service.

“The new system will help Town efficiently detect and minimize water loss,” said Administrator Kulseth. “Smart meters also support our commitment to preserving and protecting our environment by enhancing our ability to detect and stop leaks quickly, reducing carbon emissions by eliminating the need to travel to read meters, and providing customers with up-to-date water usage data so they can improve their efforts to conserve."

During future phases of the project, Town will provide a wide range of benefits for customers, including an online portal for viewing usage and other information, near real-time meter reading, and eventually, the ability to automatically alert customers for leak detection or unusually high usage.

All new meters will begin working immediately, though online capabilities will not be functional until the Town is nearly complete with the project.

To learn more, please visit www.fridayharbor.org or call Town Hall at (360) 378-2810.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I turn my water meter on or off?

No, only Town Water Department crew members are authorized to service meters and turn them on or off. Please call (360) 378-2810 to arrange a date and time for meters to be turned on or off at no charge for any reason (e.g. plumbing repairs, leaving town, etc.) during normal business hours. Contact the Sheriff’s non-emergency number at (360) 378-4151 if a leak occurs after hours for a water crew member to assist.

What happens if I turn on or off my water meter?

Any person who has tampered with a water meter can be found to have committed a Class I Civil Infraction and will be fined $250 (not including statutory assessments) per infraction. Additionally, property owners are responsible for all costs associated with damaged water meters and will be billed by the Town of Friday Harbor for the repairs.

Are there any shut off valve requirements for my water connection?

Each separate building that is connected to the Town water system is required to have a water shut off valve at the building. We recommend also having a shut off valve close to the water meter to be able to determine if you have an underground leak on your side of the meter to the building. If you do not have shut off valves, contact a licensed plumber to get one installed.

I have a leak somewhere on my property, can the Town locate or fix it?

Property owners are responsible for the water connection on their side of the water meter to their building(s), including any underground pipes. Town water staff cannot locate leaks or fix them. They can assist a licensed plumber during regular business hours with turning the meter on and off when trying to locate a leak or perform repairs.

Do you have any tips for locating leaks?

Look and listen carefully inside the house for a potential source of water flow. However, not all leaks can be heard. Check all faucets, hose bibs, and toilets. Underground pipes from the meter to your house may be the cause if nothing can be located in your building(s).

To check your toilets, add a few drops of food coloring in the tank, wait 30 minutes, and if the coloring appears in the bowl, replace your flapper valve.

What happens if I don’t repair a leak on my property?

Pursuant to Friday Harbor Municipal Code, allowing leaks to be maintained is prohibited. Water service may be suspended, terminated, or cancelled if a property owner does not repair the leak.

Can I get a break on my water bill if I have a leak?

Once a leak has been repaired by a licensed plumber, a property owner may apply for leak relief. Accounts will then be audited to determine eligibility for a credit on water consumption and/or sewer overage charges for 1 month of charges.

When do I need to get a plumbing permit?

Plumbing permits are required for properties within the Town of Friday Harbor limits for all repairs or improvements made to the water service connection. In the event of an emergency, plumbing permits must be obtained the next business day after the work has been completed. Be advised that inspections are required prior to covering up any plumbing fixtures.