Changing the meter at Dunkin’ exposed problems with the water line that led to a service cut-off to a chunk of Route 7 Monday morning.
Public Works Commissioner Jeffrey Wennberg said a crew was trying to put in the new smart meter at the Route 7 coffee and doughnut shop as part of the changeover to the city’s new system when the galvanized iron pipe broke and then the shut-off to the building did not function.
“They had to shut off, roughly, from CJ’s down to the bridge,” Wennberg said.
“They got it all put back together in a couple hours.”
Dunkin’ had to close in the interim.
“That stuff is tricky, brittle,” he said of the pipe serving the restaurant. “We haven’t allowed the use of galvanized pipe since, I think, 1934. We’ve required copper since.”
Wennberg said the nonfunctioning shut-off was of a similar, early 20th-century vintage.
“It was a bit of an adventure, but it’s all back together now,” he said.
While there have been some high-profile mishaps as the city prepares to change to the new billing system, Wennberg said the actually installations have, for the most part, gone well.
“All-in-all the records have been excellent on this,” he said.
“We’ve had roughly 30 of these requiring emergency plumbing — not usually affecting as many customers as this. ... Out of 5,000 changes, having 30 that required this is a pretty good percentage.”
The first major problem with the system came when it was discovered that while the new meters were recording water use accurately, transmitters were sending out incorrect information. After that was fixed, contractor FATHOM Water Services erroneously sent out a batch of test bills that were never meant to be mailed.
This one-two punch angered several members of the Board of Aldermen, who resolved to have regular meetings to more closely monitor the change-over.
The first of those meetings is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 9. Wennberg said he expects to discuss the latest bills, which arrived Oct. 1. Wennberg said he did not want to discuss the subject in too much detail prior to the meeting.
“Not everyone’s opened their bills yet, though they should have received them by now,” he said. “It looks to have gone smoothly. There were no surprises.”