OUR OPINION: Identifying loss of revenue vital to city utilities

Published 8:00 am Friday, October 13, 2023

Between the Waste Management woes and the discovery that Vicksburg is losing a significant amount of revenue thanks to outdated water meters, it’s been a banner year for utilities in the city.

This week, we learned the city is losing $1.2 million a year due to inaccurate, out-of-date water meters. For a place like Vicksburg, $1.2 million is no small chunk of change.

When operating a business, having inaccurate and unreliable machinery is no good. It slows down production and, well, gums up the works.

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The same can be said for city utilities. Mayor George Flaggs Jr. called the reported $1.2 million loss “devastating,” and he’s not wrong. A 2021 study showed half of the water traveling through Vicksburg’s pipes was unaccounted for, meaning the city was billing customers for less water than it produced.

And now, what is recommended is the replacement of all 11,000 of the city’s water meters.

Yes, our jaws are on the floor.

Unlike neighboring cities (we’re looking at you, Jackson), Vicksburg’s problems are comparatively minor. We’re not going weeks without clean drinking water or losing garbage service entirely.

We might complain about things like the impending increase in garbage service fees and, soon, an increase in our water bills, but things could be worse. Our city leadership touts progress time and again, and progress comes at a cost.

Let’s hope the City tackles its aging sewer lines next — if Tuesday’s replacement of a 100-year-old manhole is any indication, it could use a little attention.

Believe it or not, there’s never a dull moment when it comes to utilities. While most of us think of utilities as being something that’s simply trod underfoot, we all know how it would feel to lose them.

It might be a big stink to replace water meters or get new garbage cans, but imagine how much worse off we’d be if those things didn’t happen.