Why water meters?
To aid in water conservation and infrastructure life span, the Thompson-Nicola Regional District will be installing water meters in all TNRD-owned Community Water Systems. The anticipated timeline for metering project completion is approximately two years.
- Water conservation
Perhaps the single most important reason to implement water metering is to encourage water conservation. Currently our flat rate billing system provides no incentive for customers to manage water use. This fact combined with the hot dry climate of the BC interior, means many customers will irrigate far longer than what is actually needed, which in turns drives up total water demand.
- Fair billing
Approximately 45 of the 1100 water services on TNRD systems are currently metered. Therefore most customers are paying a flat rate for their water service. This creates a system where customers that use very little water pay the same amount as customers who use large amounts of water. In this scenario, the low water users are, in effect, paying to provide water to the highest usage customers. Implementing water meters will allow for fair billing where customers who conserve and/or simply use less, will pay less, and customers who waste water, will pay more.
- Leak detection
All water systems leak to some degree. However, leakage is a significant problem in many of the TNRD systems as most of the water systems were built using non-standard materials and non-standard construction. One of the main advantages of installing water meters on the property line (in pits) is that the meters will help identify services that have leakage within private property.
- Reduction in infrastructure and delivery costs
High water consumption contributes to equipment wear and shortens operating equipment life cycle, leading to higher operating and capital costs.
Lowered water consumption will reduce capital costs and extend the lifespan of expensive filtration systems that are needed for communities served by surface water. Before building the needed water filtration facilities on these systems, the maximum day water demands need to be brought down to more reasonable levels. Otherwise, adding water filtration will simply remain unaffordable.
In addition, when water demands are reduced, the electricity costs associated with pumping.
- Increased access to grant funding
In order to make the cost of future water treatment facilities more affordable, it will be critical to obtain Grant funding from both Federal and Provincial levels of Government. In recent years, Grant programs are increasingly giving preference to community waters systems that use of water meters to encourage water conservation.
As approved by the TNRD Board of Directors, an application for the Federal Gas Tax Fund - Strategic Priorities Fund to install water meters in all 11 TNRD water utilities was prepared and submitted in June 2017. It was announced in March of 2018 that the Gas Tax funding was approved. This means that there is no meter installation cost to our existing customers.
Benefits of water meters
Water usage on many of the TNRD Community Water Systems is extremely high, especially during peak use days in the summer months. Through increased conservation, water meters will reduce the peak day demands, which will, in addition to reducing operating costs, reduce the cost of adding future water treatment/filtration to these systems.
Expensive filtration systems are needed for systems served by surface water. Keeping water consumption down will keep those costs down as well. This is in keeping with the TNRD's mandate to meet Canadian Drinking Quality guidelines and Interior Health Authority standards for drinking water, and to keep costs down for water system customers.
Metering, along with an accompanying fee structure, ensures consumer accountability. When people become more aware of their water usage, they tend not to waste it, thereby reducing their overall water consumption.
Water metering will also assist in identifying and isolating system leaks for repair. Leaks can constitute a significant portion of a community’s water consumption.
For inside meter installations, the meter will be placed immediately after the main shut-off for the house/building, typically in the basement (Figure 1).
Figure 1. Inside Meter Installation
For outside water installations, the meter pit is installed next to the shut-off valve where the water service enters the property (Figure 2). The meters transmit data wirelessly to utility system operators. Approximately two-thirds of properties serviced by TNRD water utilities will have meters installed in water meter pits, and approximately a third will have meters installed inside.
Water meters contain a long life lithium battery that lasts for approximately 20 years.