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LETTERS: GF Resident presents water metre concerns to mayor

Dear Mayor and Council,

Instead of telling you at Monday's Council meeting, you asked me to write you a letter, so here it is:

There are five things I wish to bring to your attention:

1.  In our city engineering reports, there are differences in opinion about how much conservation water meters may trigger.  In the Water Meter Feasibility Assessment (Page 32), a reduction of 20 per cent is suggested, while in the Water Conservation Plan (Page 4-7), a reduction of 6.3% to 15.5% is suggested.  On Wikipedia, it states,  "Effect on Consumption:  There is disagreement as to the effect of metering and water pricing on water consumption."

It concerns me that in the Water Supply Plan, recommendations are being made for our city water system based on a 20 per cent reduction in use target, when that is not guaranteed and we haven't achieved it yet.

2.  Fourteen years ago, in the Water Meter Feasibility Assessment, a cost analysis was done, comparing how much money we could spend on water meters to how much money we may save by installing them.  The analysis was made for touch pad technology (whereas now the city is considering wireless) and an estimated population growth of two per cent (whereas now we are planning for 1 per cent).  There have been changes in our water system since then, as well as in our financial situation.

In the 2005 Drought Management Plan (Page 15), it was recommended that, "a re-calculation of the cost-benefit analysis be undertaken prior to initiating a universal metering program."  I have not been able to find such a financial analysis that is current and detailed.

Is it not wise to have an updated financial evaluation on the proposed installation of residential water meters before investing over one million dollars in this project?

3.  In the Water Conservation Plan (Page 2-2), it is stated that not necessarily all city "water connections" going to industry are metered.  The report (Page 5-1) recommends that all industry connections to city water be metered.  Bylaws 1822 and 1673 state that each industry is required to have one water meter.  This bylaw does not require that all of an industry's connections to city water be metered.

Is it important to our city council to have all industry connections to city water metered?  Are they interested in creating a bylaw for this?

4.  The Water Demand Management Action Plan reported on a water audit that was done for our city based on 2009 measurements and estimations.

To calculate our estimated per person residential use, they started with the total amount of water that was pumped out of our city wells.  From this, they subtracted Industrial, Commercial, and Institutional water meter measurements as well as other estimated uses.

But, not necessarily all of industry's connections were metered in 2009, so not necessarily all of the water they used was measured.  So, we can't be certain that Grand Forks residents actually used as much as 720 litres each per day.

5.  The Water Conservation Plan (Page 4-8) had recommended the water audit, including testing of existing large water meters to determine if their readings were accurate.  In the Water Demand Action Plan (Page 8), there was no mention of any testing having been done as part of the audit, but it did state, "Apparent losses are not well known but could be high for large commercial and industrial customers (meter accuracy decreases as flow range increases)."  As meters age, they generally do not measure all the water flowing through them.

Once again, we can't be sure that residents used as much as 720 litres each per day.

If residents have not been using as much water as has been estimated, then metering them is unlikely to lead to the amount of water conservation hoped for.

And, as is stated in the Water Conservation Plan (Page 5-2), "... the cost to implement the [universal water metering] program is higher than other programs per volume of water saved..."

I believe the above information warrants careful consideration before signing a million dollar plus water meter contract.

Awaiting your reply,
Donna Semenoff


Links:
GF Drought Management Plan:  

GF Universal Water Metering Feasibility Assessment

GF Water Conservation Plan: 

GF Water Demand Management: An Action Plan: 

GF Water Supply Plan:  

Wikipedia on Water Metering: