ALPENA - United Water is pushing to have new electronic water meters installed in all 1,400 households in Alpena by the end of the year, but the process is moving slower than anticipated because residents are neglecting to schedule appointments. Currently the water company is working on Alpena's north side where it has installed 150 out of the 250 meters that need to be done before moving on to another section of town.
In order to pressure residents into cooperating, the city and United Water have agreed to suspend service after four attempts are made to contact the person whose name is on the account. Operations Manager Mike Glowinski said letters were sent out about a month ago, a meeting was held, calls have been placed, and door hangers have been left at the homes for the customer. He said a second door hanger notice will inform them their water will be shut off if an appointment isn't scheduled. Glowinski said neither the city or United Water want to disconnect water, but it was the only way to get people to comply with the order.
"Some of these people we have made contact with four different times, and now we are at the point to where we need to continue to make progress," Glowinski said. "We don't want to shut people off, because it leads to extra costs to the utility and for the people. We would much rather have the people just call and set up an appointment at their convenience."
Once done with the current area of the north side, Glowinski said installation will begin on the streets connecting First Avenue and State Street, including Mason, Berry and Clinton. He said he hopes to avoid the problems that are occurring during the first phase.
"Hopefully we can get the word out enough, and people will understand that it is not a long and tiresome burden. It only takes about a half hour. We do understand people work, so we are trying our best to accommodate them," Glowinski said. "We have set aside Wednesday as a day that if people can't make it during the normal business hours, then we will set up Wednesday as an off-hour installation day. I just hope enough people become aware how important it is for them to schedule."
Glowinski said people outside the area being worked on should wait to set up an appointment. He said residents will be informed through the mail, and once they are, then they can contact United Water.
"We are asking people to wait until they get the letter in the mail," he said. "We are going to be sending letters to everyone who are in the route we will be working on next, and once they receive it, then it is time for them to call and schedule. We just can't schedule something three months before we are going to do the work.
"We are not in this to make extra money, we just want to make sure we are being as efficient as possible, while not being an inconvenience to the customer."
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689.