Member Community Successfully Adds Water Meters with Help from MHCW Associate

water meter installation billingLakeway Mobile Estates is located in Bellingham, Washington and the community has 218 spaces. It is owned by Matt Follett at Rio Grand Investment Company in Sacramento, California. They have been members of MHCW since 2004. In 2017, the city of Bellingham required all communities to install water meters at each space. Patricia Dombo was hired as manager for Lakeway Mobile Estates, the later part of 2016. Since she was new to the industry, she researched the Washington State laws concerning notification of the tenants, regarding the installation and billing of their water meters. Patricia, had to make sure all tenants, were notified in a timely matter according to all state laws. She consulted an attorney and then rewrote the community’s rules and regulations to meet the RCW statues.

After researching and preparing to implement the legal portion for her tenants, Patricia searched the web for water meter contractors and contacted Submeter Solutions, Inc. She also, found their name in MHCW’s quarterly newsletter under Associates. Submeter Solutions, Inc. is located in Renton, Washington. Jeff Lowry and Kelly Koontz are the co-owners of Submeter Solutions, which started business in 2000 and incorporated in 2009. Today Submeter Solutions has a staff of 11 employees and provides water, gas and electric submetering systems and monthly utility billing services for multifamily properties throughout the US. But a key area of focus for the company is submetering manufactured housing communities in the Northwest. Submeter Solutions has been an associated member of MHCW since 2011 and Kelly has been a featured presenter at the annual conference in past years. He will be speaking on submetering again at this year’s MHCW conference in May.

Kelly was able to explain the submetering process in detail with Patricia and Submeter Solutions provided their system proposal at the end of 2016. A key component of the project was selecting a local plumbing company to install the meter under each home. Patricia and Kelly worked together to select Northwest Plumbing Services based in Bellingham for the water meter installation. Lakeway’s project also required an added step – the City of Bellingham required a new backflow valve to be installed on the main water line. Patricia coordinated and contracted with a separate contractor to complete this before the new submetering project. Patricia held several informational meetings and delivered notices to the tenants, to inform them about the water meter installation and billing.

When the plumbing company was ready for the meter installation at each home, Patricia organized a team that included maintenance staff and her to visit each home and discuss the meter installation process with residents. In particular, Patricia was able to answer residents questions about water service interruptions, and other concerns residents had concerning the new meter. Patricia and her team also learned how the meter and wireless meter reading system works and how to perform future repairs if needed.

The wireless automated meter reading system installed at Lakeway is a high power system with the brand name Cereniti. Lakeway’s meters are installed under resident’s homes, and the Cereniti wireless transmitter connected to the meter sends the meter reads to a central gateway installed in the office at Lakeway. These meter reads are uploaded via the internet to the cloud and the daily meter readings for all units can be viewed or downloaded from any computer.

Since Lakeway uses Manage America software, it was important that Cereniti’s meter data was able to be imported into Manage America’s database for monthly utility billing. Submeter Solutions worked with Patricia to make sure that the data import process worked for Lakeway’s needs.

Ceneriti also provides Patricia with emailed leak alerts. If a resident has a running toilet, an alert will be emailed within 48 hours. Management can notify the resident to fix the leak before it becomes a large water bill for the resident.

From start to finish the whole installation at Lakeway took about seven to eight months, longer than normal due to the extra check valve on the main water line. Kelly at Submeter Solutions says that a more typical lead time is about two to three months from order.

Lakeway Mobile Estates is extremely happy with Submeter Solutions, Inc. and the plumbing company. Both companies worked very well with each other and made the water meter installation a complete success for Lakeway Mobile Estates.

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