Kamloops Homeowners: City Council Is Considering Implementing Water Meters

Water Meters In Kamloops, BC?

Kamloops Homeowners are you ready for water meters? This article appeared on the front page of the Kamloops This Week on the Friday May 1st, 2009 edition, written by Jeremy Deutsch. What do you think about these proposed water meters in Kamloops?  Read below for the full story.

The city is once again moving in the direction of universal mandatory water meters and will apply to the federal government to help bear the cost to make them a reality. Council has directed staff to apply for stimulus or “shovel-ready” funding after learning water-meter programs are eligible for money under the revised Building Canada Fund.

The cost to install meters in every home in Kamloops is pegged at $12 million, but the expectation is a grant would cover $8 million. The city has flirted with the idea of universal water meters before, but it was rejected by residents in a 2001 referendum. Instead, a voluntary water-metering program has been in place for the last two years, with 128 house-hold signing up in 2008.

The city hopes meters will cut water consumption and ease demand for the natural resource. According to numbers provided by the city, Kamloops is one of the thirstiest communities in Canada, consuming water on a daily basis above the average in the province. Kelowna, which is on a universal water-meter system, uses and average of 587 letres a day per person, compared to Kamloops which uses 700 letres. The provincial average is 426 litres a day per person.

Kelowna experienced a decrease in annual consumption of water by 20 per cent under water meters. “Based on results from communities across North America, there is no question that water meters are an equitable way to charge for water and save significant amounts of capital dollars,” said David Duckworth, the city’s director of public works and utilities.  It is estimated two of the city’s three primary water-delivery zones need significant upgrading within 10 years, while nearly half of the booster stations will require work within the same time period.

While the majority of councillors have expressed support for water meters, Denis Walsh, Pat Wallace and Marg Spina remain opposed. Tina Lange suggested residents prefer a user-pay system for many of the services in the city, noting meters fall in line with that desire. She said the city isn’t going to profit off a metered system, adding for those on a low or fixed income, meters would be financially beneficial. But Walsh questioned whether there were other ways to get people to conserve water without going to meters. He also wants to see some type of public consultation before meters are approved.

Wallace is skeptical of talk and savings under water meters and as a councillor at the time of the 2001 water-meter referendum, feels obliged to uphold its results. “Because we asked teh taxpayers for their opinion, I feel duty-bound to respect that,” she said.

Even if the grant application is approved, council would still need to give its final nod before going ahead with a universal metering program. Under the application, the meters would need to be installed by April 2011. With clear direction from council, it’s now up to city staff to put the application together before today’s deadline – not an easy task as a typical application can take up to four months to complete.