Water Meter Initiative Seeks $5 Million

A mechanical water meter - MJ Independent File Photo

A mechanical water meter - MJ Independent File Photo

In a case of water meter déjà vu the Engineering Department has asked Budget Committee to approve replacement of all mechanical water meters with newer electronic ones but this year they are looking for ones which broadcast their data to a central location.

Initiative Request for 2019: $1 million

Initiative Total Cost: $5 million

Last year’s initiative, which Budget Committee did not approve, requested to replace all water meters with new electronic models. 

The reason given was the growing inaccuracy of the meters – pegged at an annually growing at one percent inaccuracy in the customer's favour -  and the cost to the City. Last year’s Budget Committee was told the new electronic meters had a lifespan of 20 years and would through being 100 percent accurate over their lifespan pay for themselves as well as provide income to the water utility.

Last year’s Budget Committee was told a water meter which may have been in a home for 20 years could be out as much as 20 percent in the customer's favour.

This year's request not only calls for replacing all water meters but goes a step further by requesting water meter data be sent to a central location. 

The system requested is a state of the art Advanced Metering Infrastructure. AMI is a fixed water meter reading system which allows meter data to be collected at a central location. 

In the report requesting the initiative Budget Committee was told the new system could be installed over a period of years. 

The proposed initiative, if approved, would pay about five percent in increased revenues on water bills – the estimated total lost due to aging mechanical meters – or $550,000 on an annual basis.

The new system would also realize an estimated annual operational saving of $450,000. The report made no mention about potential job losses if the initiative was approved.

The entire projected annual cost savings would be $1 million. During the 20 year life span of the meters the projected additional revenue to the waterworks utility was $20 million. 

Budget Committee was told despite the $5 million cost the system would pay for itself in increased revenues or sustaining revenues while at the same time providing improved customer service.

As with any Budget Initiative put forward so far the new water meter initiative must be approved by Budget Committee in their upcoming deliberations. And must also be later approved at a Council meeting. 

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