Sacramento's water-meter install is one of the city's costliest projects ever. But it doesn't have to be.

SN&R is encouraged that the city of Sacramento wants to speed up the installation of water meters. As City Manager John Shirey announced late last month, he’s asking city staff to make haste and get all the remaining 60,000-plus meters installed by 2020.

This is a good thing; Sacramento’s waited too long to put in meters, even though having them would help conserve water.

Shirey also says he will be re-evaluating the nearly half-billion-dollar water-meter plan. The two costliest aspects of this plan: installing meters in sidewalks, instead of lawns or landscape, and replacing water mains.

Rethinking this plan is also good. As investigative reporter Joe Rubin noted in his November 13 SN&R cover story “Flushing money,” it seems the city is needlessly replacing mains and also spending way too much installing meters in sidewalks.

We urge the city to install meters in lawns and landscapes, saving approximately $500 per home, and to also place a moratorium on water-main and pipe replacements until the city’s infrastructure can be properly studied.

What’s more, SN&R would also like some answers. Why did the Department of Utilities present this expensive and unnecessary install plan in the first place? Why did the city disregard a 2011 audit questioning the plan? And why did it take SN&R’s cover story to get city leaders to stop and rethink things?

Sacramento’s water-meter install was set to be one of the city’s costliest works projects ever. Moving forward, however, it doesn’t need to be.