It’s obvious when your facility experiences a sewer backup. But if your sewer meter ran afoul, how would you know? A malfunctioning sewer meter can cost you thousands of dollars a year. Just ask Foam Fabricators Inc. in Fort Madison, Iowa.

The Challenge

Foam Fabricators manufactures foam packaging materials. They renovated their facility in 2002 after taking over the building from another manufacturer. At the time, they decided not to invest in new water and sewer meters. Foam Fabricators uses water in their manufacturing process to create steam that acts as a catalyst with a resin to produce foam products. They also use water in cooling towers to form and cool foam molds.

The company was being billed for water and sewer based on the recorded flow. The number seemed high, so Foam Fabricators brought in the SM Engineering experts to take a look at their bill. A detailed audit showed the sewer flow was being billed in excess of the water supplied to the facility. This was impossible: the water coming into the plant was either going down the sanitary sewer, evaporating in the cooling towers, or lost in steam processing.

SM Engineering verified there was no other source of water coming into the building, such as from a well. We then asked the city about the discrepancy and learned the sewage meter had been prone to malfunctioning. Foam Fabricators was responsible to repair or maintain the sewer meter at their own expense.

The Solution

SM Engineering worked with the city public works director to remove the sewer meter that had run afoul. We then negotiated a new billing structure so Foam Fabricators would be billed based on supply water.

The best part was that we were able to negotiate a refund for Foam Fabricators of $28,973.44 based on previous overcharges. Additionally, leaks were discovered at various points in the production process and have since been corrected, ultimately lowering water and natural gas costs.

Moving forward, Foam Fabricators is realizing a 40 percent reduction in their water bills simply by being billed under the correct sewage rate. That’s a total refund of $28,973.44 and annual savings of nearly $50,000.

Here’s what Foam Fabricators had to say about our work:
“We received a credit to our water account for nearly $29,000. SM Engineering took care of all the paperwork. The completed documents were e-mail to us for signatures. They did all of the leg-work and the entire process took less than 2 months.” Karen Carvell, Assistant Controller, Foam Fabricators, Inc.

If your sewer bill seems a little high, contact the utility bill experts at SM Engineering for a no-obligation bill audit. Schedule your no-obligation review today.

Satya Garg graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1968 with an MS in Mechanical Engineering. He is a registered Professional Mechanical and Electrical Engineer in Minnesota. Prior to starting SM Engineering in 1982, Mr. Garg was Manager of Engineering for Planmark, a subsidiary of Super Valu Stores. After graduating from University of Minnesota, Mr. Garg started his career with “Michand Cooley, Hallberg, Erickson & Associates”, one of the most reputed consulting company in Minnesota. He had the opportunity to work with Robert Michand on many interesting projects such as Target stores, conceptual design of mechanical systems for IDS center and troubleshooting HVAC systems at IDS tower. Find him on Google+