Water Meters in the News – Cornwall Ontario – December 9, 2009

watermKevin Lajoie has covered the water meter story in today’s Standard Free-Holder.

“City officials insist the water meters aren’t intended to generate more money from users. Instead, they said the ultimate goal is to make the system more equitable overall and more sustainable in the long-term.

“We’re not after more money here,” said environmental services division manager Morris McCormick.

Levac said the new rate structure will have two components — a base rate (depending on the size of the water line to a house) that will support the cost of maintaining the system and a consumptive rate that will be charged based on usage.

Levac acknowledged that some homeowners’ bills will go up under the new system, while others will go down, but a big part of it will depend on usage.

“If you use a lot of water, you’ll pay a lot more, but if you don’t use a lot of water, you’ll pay less,” he said.”

I wrote the following comment in his story.

“This seems to be like an awful lot of investment for a service that isn’t intended to make money for the city? What is the service then exactly for? Are we experiencing a water shortage in Cornwall?

And if it’s an important service why aren’t we rushing, or at least moving promptly?

I think this is what it is. The city has to come up with an awful lot of money for not only the new water & sewage plant, but also the higher costs of supporting the new plant.

Those dollars have to come from somewhere thus the introduction of water meters. While physics can prove that elephants can in fact fly I think the probably amount of taxpayers that save any money with a water meter will be an extreme few. Sure higher water users will see an increase, but over all the citizens and taxpayers of Cornwall will be paying more for these services, and that overhead to implement them.

I don’t like this whole water meter program, and I think it should be stopped in the bud and be an election issue.

Jamie Gilcig

I haven’t spoken to that many people excited by the concept of water meters.  In a time when we talk about bringing more people to Cornwall I think not having water meters is an attraction.    We don’t face some of the water issues that some communities have.  As a matter of fact we are exporting water to some nearby communities.

We have to cover our costs, but I just see this as a big fat money grab.    There are ways of charging excessive users other than water meters, and frankly in some cities you lose half the water you pump via cracks in the lines through the city.

To me this is simply not having the cojones to tell the public we need more money for water & sewage, why we need more money, and how much we need and instead holding out the carrot that a few residents may save a few pennies.

Meanwhile almost all of Cornwall has to foot the bill to purchase and install these meters.

Let’s make this an election issue, and let’s have the public decide if they want water meters or not.

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  1. It costs money to get potable water to each citizen’s taps. I think the whole idea of water meters is to insure people use water responsibly. When people have to pay for something they place more value on it, therefore we can surmise that people would be a little more respectful and careful with their water usage. I’m thinking this will most certainly eliminate the citizens who water their lawn in the middle of a hot day with a sprinkler that has been directed to water the sidewalk more then the lawn or those citizens who spray wash the driveway rather then sweep it. I see that the meters have a definite up-side.

  2. What do you think of them wanting to install water meters on those that are on wells then eco-chick? Some are not on city water. But are being faced with the possibility of having to pay for the water that they pump themselves from wells. Do you think that they are trying to teach well owners responsibility? when well owners already have to deal with enough problems with trying to pull water from the ground in some areas?

  3. I agree, make it an election issue. This money-grabbing from the public HAS TO STOP!

  4. The pointless arena should have been a larger issue.
    I don’t think people really understand how much water they actually use. When you have a meter, you see that you do not use as much as you would expect, and a cubic meter is a very large volume.
    Unless you are constantly watering your lawn, and I see a lot of that here in Cornwall, you are guaranteed to save money.

    Recently purchasing a home in Cornwall, coming from Kitchener-Waterloo, which has had meters for decades, I was intrigued at having no meter, until my nearly $400 tax bill arrived. I immediately volunteered for a water meter. We have had it for 3 months now and have used 30 cubic meters. That being said, we are not water misers. The bathtub is filled 3 times a week, Kitchen sink daily, dishwasher every other day, laundry 2-3 times per week, daily showers x2. I even watered some new grass seed for a few hours every day for a week back in September.

    It really does not add up quickly unless you: water your lawn constantly, flush your toilets every 5 minutes, leave your taps running all day, etc.

    Having the water meter helps people to monitor their consumption and control their costs.

    Personally, I stand to save between $400-$500 off of my water taxes. Although, I will end up having to pay that to the city for something that is actually useless, the new arena complex, which should have been completely funded by people who want it/will use it prior to construction (especially seeing as the total cost is ever growing)

    As for metering wells, this is news to me. I don’t see how the city can do that for privately owned property. Unless they are simply providing you with a tool to monitor your consumption, but not charging you a usage fee.

    It is time we become more ecologically responsible in this area. It costs a lot of money to provide us all with potable water. And with vast areas of the US mid-west starting to dry up, they will be looking to Canadian water resources.

  5. Author

    Chef Shawn a few issues. First off you got your meter in for free, but you really didn’t as you pay city taxes and you know what your property tax bill is. Nothing is for free 🙂

    Secondly the city hasn’t really implemented final water rates once the transfer is over. This is an area I think the public needs more input on. I know as someone that lived in Ottawa with meters that the savings isn’t really that much. It also depends on how the city charges. From what I’ve seen and read meters cost large users more money, but tend to not save the average user any money, but incur the cost of the implementation.

    I just want a bit more honesty into why these meters are wanted. I want to see the vision of those that we elect to lead us. And I want better accountability for how our public dollars are being spent.

    That’s why I think this is an election issue.

    Jamie Gilcig – Editor – The Cornwall Free News

  6. Chef Shawn you could cut back even further and fill your bathtub perhaps twice a week. The kitchen sink could be filled every two days and the dishwasher dishes could be done once-a-week. You could skip one of the two showers a day and shower together. Now thats saving money.

  7. I am trying to demonstrate just that, thank you, that I am not making a concerted effort to save water.And at that I am still only using 30 cubic meters in 3 months. Yes they havent decided on rates, but that is irrelevant. I live in riverdale. I see all the green, lush lawns, where homeowners are wasting drinking water because there are currently no financial repercussions, hence the backlash.

    I think it is better that everyone pay their fair share, instead of having a few that abuse the system and cause higher rates for all of us.

    I think you have missed the crux of the reasoning perhaps.
    Overall, adding meters, regardless of implementation cost, will lower our cities consumption. That cannot really be argued. Not everybody who currently consumes a large amount of water would be able to foot the bill. Reducing consumption reduces costs, increases water availability, increases efficiency, and will overall lower the annual costs for individual households.

    Getting my meter for free is irrelevant. I would still be willing to purchase it. I just happened to save myself some money.

    Compare it to switching from a 75% efficiency oil furnace to a 95% efficiency gas furnace. Sure it will cost you $4k to install the new furnace, but in the long term you are going to pay that back before you need to replace it with a newer/better gas furnace 10/15 years down the road.

    Sure it will cost you a “start-up” fee. But anyone with more than one bathroom in their house, especially 2 full bathrooms is going to save a pile of money.
    My house has 2 full bathrooms, a 2pc, dishwasher, kitchen sink, laundry room and tub, 2 exterior taps. Our tax rate as a result is $780 per year.

    Having lived with a water meter all my life (this is the first place that hasn’t had one) I KNOW it can cost less even for the average consumer. I cannot see the volumetric rates being substantially more than any other municipality because overall, we are going to reduce demand and therefore costs to the city.

    I am certainly more dissatisfied with the fact that our CAO is receiving a $23,000 raise out of my pocket, and I am going to be expected to fund the arena. You are right, the taxes are already up and above what they should/could be.

  8. Chef Shawn, you talk about saving drinking water but you forget that ALL living things need water to survive! Even grass!

  9. that is a hyperbolic statement to say the least. We had the rainiest season on record, yet people watered their lawns daily. Does grass need chemical herbicides and fertilizers to survive as well? There are many unneeded excesses. And I am no rabid environmentalist, I simply to not see the point in mass consumption and waste. I know some people think this is an inalienable right. However, it is not, and sooner or later everything is going to be much more controlled if we want to survive as a species, starting with food production and population growth.

    I never said DO NOT WATER your grass. Its about moderation and ecological responsibility. Concepts that are visibly lost on many individuals in the community. Having to pay for their water will likely impart a sense of conservation, if only to lessen the burden on ones finances.

  10. Author

    Hi Chef Shawn,

    Considering that in some cities as much as 50% of the water sent down the pipes leaks into the ground before we turn our taps on is the water the actual issue for us? Do we have even a remote shortage of water in Cornwall? When people water their grass that water goes back into our local water table eventually and makes our city pretty.

    I’m not saying your points are wrong or incorrect. I am saying that the city knows the total amount of water used by Cornwall and its cost. That ends up in our bill. Can people use water better? Sure, and that’s a goal. I just don’t think water meters necessarily are the solution.

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