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LETTER: Water metres not fiscally responsible

Dear Mayor, Councillors and City Staff,

I believe that we all want what's best for Grand Forks residents.  And, it is out of my caring for the well being of this land and our residents, that I am motivated to write to you today.

Having read much of the material from the water meter related engineering reports, I am not reassured about residential water meters being a good idea for Grand Forks.  My concern is that our municipality would incur a financial risk as a result of them.

Firstly, it is not proven that residential water meters cause water conservation. I have not been able to find any studies that prove this; if you have, please share them with me.  What I have read is material that expresses opinion about water meters and speculation about the water conservation they may trigger.  I've also read about comparisons that have been made that could be explained by other things besides water meters.  I would be grateful to you if you would be willing to share and discuss any material that you believe proves that water meters trigger conservation.   

My understanding is that many factors affect how much water we use.  These include:

  • whether we have a yard (city dwellers vs rural residents)
  • whether we irrigate our yard
  • what we have growing that we irrigate in our yard
  • whether we have a pool and its size
  • what type of soil we have
  • what type of climate we have (how much rain)
  • the number of members living in our household (size of family)
  • the type of toilets we have 
  • the type of water fixtures we have
  • how convenient it is to conserve
  • habits we have right now
  • our understanding of the value of water conservation for our circumstances
  • our awareness of water conservation techniques

You and I know from living here, and according to city documents, that minimal education has been done for residential water conservation to this point.  Also, according to one of the engineering reports, water conservation education is relatively inexpensive.

By comparison, installing residential water meters in GF would be highly expensive.  Just the start up costs alone would be over a million dollars, then there are maintenance, testing, data management, price determination, and future water meter replacement costs.  There would also be the loss of yearly interest on our gas tax savings.  Another loss would be lost opportunities of things we could do with that money, such as expanding public transit, creating a solar farm, building a geothermal greenhouse, or protecting riparian areas...  Couldn't we use our gas tax savings to help our residents afford water saving tools instead? 

Nowadays, more people are realizing the value of conservation.  They are ready for education and affordable tools that help them with the actual conservation (rather than water measurement).  Examples are rain barrels, precipitation sensors, and irrigation timers.

Please carefully consider what I have shared.  

Looking forward to hearing from you,

Donna Semenoff

Grand Forks, BC