Many concerned over "locked" water meters - - Jackson, MS

Many concerned over "locked" water meters

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Two people in the city of Jackson are drawing attention to what they call a serious problem: being unable to turn off their water in case of an emergency.

The city of Jackson began installing digital water meters last year, aiming to replace 64,000 across the city.

But one expert tells us many he finds are locked, meaning residents can't access them.

"We called the water department to turn it off. It took them over an hour to get here," homeowner Steven Dale said.

If he had been dealing with a water leak, Dale said those precious minutes could have cost thousands in damages.

"It's scary, is what it is. It's very scary," he added.

Dale told us about the problem he experienced over the weekend.

He was installing a refrigerator with an ice maker in his home.

Calling the water department both to turn his water off, then back on, took up a good portion of the day.

"I imagine it's pretty frustrating for a homeowner, in order to try and shut the water off while it's leaking inside their home," plumbing contractor Shawn Reece said.

Reece knows all too well about the new digital meters being locked.

He's had to get creative just to get around them so he could do his job.

"I think it's a spring-loaded type lock, that if you can manage to get something in there and press it, it'll come right out," Reece said.

There's also a more costly, but more dependable option, too: getting a valve installed between the house and the meter.

"You could spend a few hundred dollars, easy. It's a pretty lengthy process. You've gotta find the line first off, then dig it up," Reece said.

Residents like Dale say the cost is worth it for peace of mind.

"We need to have the ability as homeowners to be able to turn our water off in case of an emergency," Dale said.

Despite concerns and complaints we received, Jackson communications director Shelia Byrd said the water meter covers have been left unlocked so 

residents can reach the shut off in the valve box.

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