Comprehensive plan for water meters begins

A plan for a comprehensive water meter program for the city was unanimously given early budget approval by city council last week.

A plan for a comprehensive water meter program for the city was unanimously given early budget approval by city council last week.In 2014 the city will begin the process of universal water metering as a way to optimize water system services, reduce energy requirements and sizing infrastructure for reasonable water consumption rates.The city has received gas tax rebates to the tune of $1.3 million, so it has set aside that amount for the water metering project, said acting mayor Cher Wyers. “We want to fast pace it to the next level,” she said. “But it’s going to be an open process with the public. We have received concerns and we’re addressing those concerns.“Council will be looking for the public to be “denizens” of what will be the plight of future generations, she added. “Water may be plentiful for us but the reality is we do have to be aware of how much water we’re using now,” Wyers said.She said that industrial business are already hooked up to water meters and it’s time for homeowners to find out exactly how much water they are consuming.“I think people will be pleasantly surprised to find out that consciousness level has brought it to the forefront that the savings are there without sacrificing our gardens, our lawns, our swimming pools,” said Wyers. “It’s timely. In order for the city to move forward with asset management funding with the provincial and federal government this is the criteria that they say we have to have in place or we go to the bottom of the pile.”Doug Allin, city administrative officer (CAO) for Grand Forks, said the city has to prepare a tender if the project is to be started in 2014.“We should really have the project up and rolling in the spring of 2014,” he said. “In order for us to develop a timeline now, we’ll need the funding in place for the project.”Allin said that the Gax Tax money can only be spent on projects that reduce the city’s carbon footprint.“If we don’t have a water metering program in place, we don’t qualify for other senior level funding,” he added. “So we would miss on potentially anything to fund our asset management plan.”Allin said the city has already begun mapping water services so they are able to shut them off when the water meters are being installed. The water metering program will be a user pay program, said Allin.“You won’t be subsidizing others around you,” he said. “You only pay for what you use. So if you choose to use less, you’ll pay less. The biggest piece in this—is that we save millions of dollars right from the get-go just because of our infrastructure sizing.”