Holes in water-meter lids mean meter readers for the Granger-Hunter Improvement District will lose their contacts with the insect world soon.

New meters being installed throughout the district will be read by a scanning device through a hole in the lid, so readers will no longer have to pry the lid off each meter box and brush the spiders and other insects out of the way to take a reading.Some homeowners in West Valley City and elsewhere in the district's service area have already noticed a curious hole in the meter lid that wasn't there last fall. Dick Fritzsche, district assistant manager, said crews are drilling the holes ahead of installation crews that will plug the hole with a plastic "mushroom" and replace the meter.

"We're serving 20,000 connections with only two meter readers," With the new meters, he said, "The meter reader just walks by and puts a wand on the reader, which picks up a reading that goes into a computer tape." Information on the tape is transferred to a billing computer, which also warns the district of a problem if the reading is unusually high or low.

Concern about having to add a third reader wasn't the district's only incentive for spending $1.4 million on new meters, Fritzsche said.

Aging meters in the district are beginning to run slow, some as much as 25 percent, which means some customers have been paying for only three out of every four gallons of water they use. "We hope to recoup the biggest share of the cost through increased revenue," he said.