Letter: Meters should have been a last resort

It would seem to make sense to do all the small things that would make an immediate impact on consumption, writes B. Hardwicke.

Many times during the ongoing water meter controversy we have been scolded for consuming one third more water per capita than the provincial average. I suggest that this statement is misleading, irrelevant and impossible to prove.   The provincial average is basically set by about 80 per cent of our population, which lives in the Fraser Valley, Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island and other coastal communities.

The climate of these areas is such that there is seldom a genuine need for sprinkling and comparing their water consumption to that of residents of the hot and dry Southern Interior is meaningless.

All communities would have to be completely monitored (metered!) and all water systems would have to have all  losses through leakage located and repaired, etc., before any accurate comparison could be made.

It has been reported that our city estimates that between  25 to 35 per cent of the water entering our distribution lines is lost through leakage while Veritec Consultants, who were working on the Revelstoke water system, estimated the possible loss through leakage to be between  27 and 74 per cent.

Even if our system loses only 25 per cent, our consumption rate would be reduced to the provincial average if these leaks could be located and repaired.

Matching the average would seem to be an impossibility, given the climatic differences, but shows that one should be wary of unsubstantiated numbers that appear to be promoting an agenda.

In one of the city’s promotional ads in this paper, Roger Huston, manager of operations, is quoted as saying,  “The most effective way to preserve our water supply is to conserve through water meters.” He is also quoted as saying, “Without water meters the city will need to build additional capacity and operational costs will continue to rise.”

Both of these statements are of doubtful validity, considering the success other cities have had in locating and repairing leaks at much lower costs than metering.  Locating and repairing leaks should be a first priority, whether meters are to be installed or not.

It would seem to make sense to do all the small things that would make an immediate impact on consumption, like sprinkling restrictions, and then move to a leak location and repair program. Meters should have been a last resort.

B. Hardwicke, Grand Forks