Questions surround new water meters buried under St Albans street

The meters which are stored under a heavy metal cover. Photo: Bob Hattersley.

The meters which are stored under a heavy metal cover. Photo: Bob Hattersley. - Credit: Archant

St Albans customers have been baffled by new Affinity Water meters which require traction engines to be read.

The meters' covers removed. Photo: Bob Hattersley

The meters' covers removed. Photo: Bob Hattersley - Credit: Archant

Affinity fitted new automatic reading meters underground on Carlisle Avenue, near to the city centre, late last month.

Resident Bob Hattersley said: “We live in a block of six flats so the new meters had to be placed in an external pit with very heavy cast iron covers.

“This is where the traction engine men come in: it takes two strong men equipped with special lifting tools to open the pit lids.”

Inside the pit were just four meters for the six flats.

Mr Hattersley says he already has an automatic reading meter in his flat: “To ensure correct billing, customers must be able to read their own meter, but which meter and how when the meter number is in small letters in a pit under very heavy covers and there are too few meters for the flats?”

Concerns have been expressed for the single people who live in the flats, and for one resident who is over 90 years old.

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“Affinity Water have told us the meter number that applies to our flat, but they already use the other one to bill us.

“So why do we need a second one and how can we reconcile both meter readings when we cannot access the second meter?

“Are we to pay for two standing charges and twice for our water usage? Not even the traction engine driver could answer that question.”

An Affinity Water spokesperson said: “Since introducing our water saving programme in 2015, we have installed over 112,000 automatic meter readers across our central supply area.

“Water meters are installed free of charge and are maintained by Affinity Water.

“Where possible, we will fit meters outside the property at the location of the external stop-tap.

“This could be on the footpath or verge outside the property, or just inside the property boundary.

“We read all automatic meter reading meters automatically and water usage is displayed on customers’ bills.

“As part of our water saving programme, we also offer free home water efficiency checks and these are available with every meter that is fitted to help encourage customers to save water, energy and money.”