Not a drop to drink! Bloomy pitches new water meter plan

Not a drop to drink! Bloomy pitches new water meter plan
Mayor Bloomberg dropped by Steve Hindy’s Brooklyn Brewery in Williamsburg on Tuesday to announce the city’s new automated water meter reading program, which calls for the installation of battery-powered readers on all 826,000 water meters citywide by 2011.
The Brooklyn Paper / Ben Muessig

Mayor Bloomberg made a splash in Williamsburg on Tuesday when he dropped by the Brooklyn Brewery — but he wasn’t visiting the North 11th Street beer factory for a drink.

Instead, Hizzoner was on hand to announce a program to install automated water meters on all properties citywide, an initiative that he claims will result in more accurate water bills, more prompt discoveries of leaks, and a possible reduction in water usage that could save residents and businesses more than $90 million per year.

It may sound like the dry work of low-level bureaucrats, but these water meters are dripping with coolness: Every six hours, the meters will transmit signals to receivers atop buildings around the city, allowing water users to know exactly what they’re using.

Currently, such things are based on that time-honored technique: guesstimating.

“It will substantially improve the integrity and accuracy of our bills,” said the mayor.

The installation of the battery-powered meters won’t be completed until 2011, but when the project is finished the city will terminate its $3 million contract with water meter readers and have the capacity to better levy fines against “deadbeats” who don’t pay their water bills, Bloomberg noted.

The Brooklyn Brewery, which pays $12,000 every year for 1.5 million gallons of water — the raw material for his fine lagers and ales — served as an early tester of the program. Founder Steve Hindy said he is optimistic that the battery-powered meters will lead to more accurate billing — but he actually wants his water bills to go up, not down.

“I don’t expect to save any [money] because I’m hoping to double the size of the brewery by the end of the year,” said Hindy, who has been looking for larger facilities since 2004 to escape rising property values near his Williamsburg location.

Hindy told The Brooklyn Paper that he is currently negotiating with several Brooklyn landlords and is “cautiously optimistic” that he will be able to move to a larger facility. In the past, he’s talked about having a beer garden, which, experts say, would be a very popular public amenity.

He also promised to inform Brooklyn Paper readers when he has more details — a promise we will hold him to.

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