City not about to pay for water meter installations any time soon

Andrew Zwicker
By Andrew Zwicker
April 14th, 2011

A motion, introduced by Councilor Moore, charged up on the idea after attending CBT’s Water Smart forum last week, for the City to prepare a feasibility report on the City potentially paying for the installation of water meters and compensating people that have already installed was dead int the water after a 5-1 vote against it (councilor Charlton was absent).

“I’m interested to know what the financial implications are and how we could pay for it hopefully through grants,” explained Moore. “It’s good to hear best practices from elsewhere and where we can follow them that is terrific.

Rossland’s previous council initiated mandatory water meter installation with a due date of December 31st of this year. Installation costs of the water meters has thus far been the responsibility of the home/building owners.

As of February 647 meters have been installed of the 1,681 connections to the City water system, or just under 40% in total.

It was noted by Councilor Moore that during the CBT Water Smart conference other communities praised Rossland’s efforts in bringing a metered water system online but added that it wasn’t executed as well as it could have been.

A number of concerns about the City potentially paying for installation of water meters arose during the discussion which stopped the motion in its tracks. One of the primary concerns was the potential cost of both paying for new meter installation as well as compensating those who have already installed meters.

“My initial reaction was that it’s going to cost the city a lot of money,” commented Councilor Wallace.”Installations are all very unique. Depending on the home they can range from $200 to $1,000 dollars. If we have 1/3rd of the community already installed. I just did a quick calculation. 1,000 homes at 300 bucks, that’s $300,000. If we were just now beginning the program this might be an approach to take but we’re part way through it already. I’m very uncomfortable with doing this at this point in time.”

Councilor Stradling appreciated the intent of the motion but also spoke against it, seeing the implementation of such a program now, midstream in the project could actually deter people from installing water meters. 

“I think it may do us more harm to pass this motion in that the people who are sitting on the fence in the 50% or more of people who haven’t yet installed the meter. If word got out that the city was considering potentially paying for that, they might potentially put off their own installation. Any thought that the city might pay, if it was out there in the city as a council report in preparation may discourage people who are thinking of installing a meter now might think “The city is going to pay. Let’s hold out a bit and wait for them to come along with a cheque.”

With the tide turning against her motion Councilor Moore re-enforced that what she is asking for is a feasibility study and that “we’re assuming and presuming what is going to be in the report which I think is unfortunate.”

Moore’s hope is that City staff would seek out potential grant opportunities or innovative ways to fund the project at least in part to reduce the potential cost as part of the report and that if the City waits until the deadline for installation before enacting such it would “reward the slackers.”

“I’d rather not do that. I’d be interested in seeing what staff said about hits,” added Moore. “There are a number of grants out there targeted towards water conservation that could be looked in to that would come up I think in the staff report. I’m asking to explore without coming to conclusions of what the report would say.”

Council voted down the motion for staff to explore and report back on the feasibility of such a plan 5-1.

It was noted by Mayor Granstrom during the discussion that “They (water meters) are flying off the shelf right now. Five or more a day are being picked up from City Hall right now.”

If that pace was to remain that would be 875 more water meters picked up by year end that would result in 90% compliance by the deadline.

Do you currently have a water meter installed? Are you planning to install one? 

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