Letter: Use meters for data collection

My hope is that Grand Forks will follow the advice of engineers by first testing its industry meters, writes Donna Semenoff.

How much would it cost for the City of Grand Forks to test the accuracy of local industries’ water meters?

Last year, the CAO told me it would be too expensive. But, as far back as five years ago, expert engineering companies have been recommending this to our city.

Why would our city be considering installing more water meters if it can’t afford to properly take care of the ones it already has?

As a delegation on July 20 at the Committees of the Whole meeting, I proposed that the first thing our city do towards water conservation is to follow the advice of the engineers and test the city’s existing water meters to make sure they are measuring all the water flowing through them.

Once the city can trust the measurements of its water meters, it can collect and examine all the data, to get an idea of how much water may be leaking from the city’s main pipes.

The engineers suggested that if the estimated leakage is more than 15 per cent, that the most cost effective approach to water conservation would be to do leak detection and repair. They stated that after this is done, then the city could consider installing more water meters.

Engineers listed other water conservation approaches for consideration as well. One highly successful approach has been to hire summer students to go door to door to share ideas of how residents could conserve water. Another option is to promote the installation of water efficient toilets.

What to do with the old toilets? Bellingham, Wash. crushes their old toilets and makes city sidewalks out of them.

Since city council has unanimously agreed that they are not in support of the commodification of city water, I have proposed that they not price water by volume.

Pricing water volumetrically makes people think of water as a commodity, because that is the way we price other commodities such as electricity and natural gas. Water is different in that it is essential to life. But, if more citizens begin to think of water as a commodity, could it lead to international water sales and us losing control of water and its price?

My proposal then, is that residential water meters be voluntary, and to be used for data collection. Voluntary water metering would also mean that residents would have a true affordable choice about how much RF radiation they are exposed to.

In June 2015, Parliament’s Standing Committee on Health agreed that children “should be protected from unnecessary exposure to wireless technology.” The committee recommended an “awareness campaign… to ensure that Canadian families and children are reducing risks related to radiofrequency exposure.”

My hope is that Grand Forks will follow the advice of engineers by first testing its industry meters, evaluating leak detection and repair, and then partnering with residents in real time water conservation with door to door education and a toilet replacement program.

I’d like us to consider how we can make water conservation easier and more affordable for all.

~ Donna Semenoff, Grand Forks