OC water workers will go door to door to check meters

In the coming weeks, Oil City residents can expect to see city water department workers, dressed in florescent green, out and about knocking on doors to test water meters.

The water crew workers will be out between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. beginning as early as this week, but the hours could change as things get underway, Jason Herman, director of the city water department said Monday.

In addition to the bright green clothes with the city’s logo on them, the workers will have a city issued ID on a lanyard, Herman said.

If anyone is in doubt when someone comes to read their meter, they can call the Oil City police department dispatch number at (814) 678-3080 to confirm the meter reader is from the water department.

Once the workers start going house to house in a neighborhood, they will likely go through the entire neighborhood, Herman said. There is no particular area where they will start, he added.

If no one is home, the workers will leave a blue tag on the door with instructions on how to contact the Oil City utilities department. City employees will make three separate attempts to read the water meter.

No personal information will be gathered about people living in the house, and the information about the meter is tied to the address, according to a flyer from the city.

Herman said the most helpful thing Oil City residents can do, besides letting the city employees in to read meters, is to make sure the city has a working phone number for them. That can be done by contacting the city’s utilities department.

“Some people may be on their third or fourth phone number since moving in to their house and setting up their utilities payment,” Herman said. The city can send out notifications to all customers through the phone system, so they need phone numbers that are up to date, he added.

The purpose of the testing is to make sure all the roughly 4,000 active water meters in Oil City are working correctly and determine what the water service line attached to each meter is made of, Herman said.

He said it is a standard thing to test water meters every couple of years and the city is a little behind schedule with testing.

All the water meters in the city were replaced between 1998 and 2000 with meters the city reads remotely, so city workers have not had to go regularly into homes to read meters since the new meters were installed, except in emergencies or to do maintenance, Herman said.

The water department, in conjunction with city’s engineering and utilities departments, is working on inventorying all the service lines in the city to comply with new EPA and state DEP regulations regarding lead and copper.

The city is required by Oct. 16 to have a complete inventory of all the water mains and service lines in the city and what they are made of, Herman said.

The city is also mandated to come up with a plan for complying with the regulations that must be submitted to and approved by the EPA, he added.

The DEP and EPA’s goal is to have no lead pipes in the ground in 10 years, Herman said.

Due to the age of Oil City’s infrastructure, there are lead waterlines in the city, but lead and copper are not leeching into Oil City’s water from the old pipes because the city’s corrosion control measures have worked, Herman said.

Oil City’s water, like all other municipal water systems, is tested every year and has not failed any of those tests in decades, Herman said. The changes in regulations on lead and copper are nationwide, he added.

Part of the DEP’s new regulations are risk mitigation that must be done when a waterline breaks and needs replaced or repaired.

If the waterline that broke is lead, Herman said that in addition to replacing the line, the city will give the people living in the house a pitcher with a filter to filter their water for heavy metals.

The homeowner also has the option to have the city workers come back in three to six months to test the water for lead and copper at the city’s expense, he added.

More information about the meter reading can be found on the city’s website at www.oilcity.org/water or by calling the city utilities department at (814) 678-3002 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.