Regular water consumers might consider new meters to be a drop in the bucket, but people who leave their taps open might as well keep their wallets open too.
As part of a three-year process beginning this year, Tiny council approved a bylaw which would see water meters installed in Wyevale starting this fall.
The bylaw is intended to regulate the supply of municipal water to properties, and authorize the installation of water meter packages within the township.
In 2022, users will continue to be on the standard annual fee, but with the township providing mock bills informing the public of the amount they are consuming, as well as education on usage and what they would pay under a usage-based billing system. Finally, a usage-based fee will be implemented in 2023.
Council heard from a consultant last year in regards to using the Wyevale water system as a pilot project, which could be adapted for the rest of the township.
“I like the ability to try it out and understand before we go to full metering,” said Coun. Cindy Hastings at the committee of the whole meeting, “but what are we basing the average usage at?”
Director of public works Tim Leitch responded that part of the equation was based on rate-of-use seen in other municipalities.
“What we’re looking at is average users based on the province’s numbers and also some local rates that we’re seeing in consumptions, and our actual costs that we have operating both from a future capital and a five-year plan, and also operational costs,” said Leitch.
“The intent of the meters is -- people are using water responsibly, some may even find a reduction in their bills, but typically -- we’re hoping that with standard use that they’ll see pretty much no impact on themselves.
“And the excessive users, the people that fill pools or excessive other-type of watering, will find that their bills will probably go up,” Leitch added.
Coun. Tony Mintoff noted that as it currently stands, the township of Tiny remains under water restrictions year-round.
Leitch responded that the revision of a watering bylaw was anticipated for later this year, aimed at reducing the amount of use for treated water, and also to prevent future capital expenditures from ‘abuse of the system.'
“However, it comes down to enforcement too,” Leitch said. “And somebody who has a hose going into a swimming pool at night, for example, it limits our ability to enforce.
"So where enforcement is possible, and we do see it, we’ll keep the rules in place. But we’re hoping this will also detract use through the financial impacts.”
As per the regulation and installation bylaw: All connected water services in the Wyevale system will have a water meter installed; all connected industrial commercial, and institutional water services have water meters and backflow preventers installed; with provisions to allow township staff and contractors to enter private property as needed to inspect, repair, and replace water meters; and that penalties occur for properties refusing to allow water meter installation or inspections.
Archives of council meetings are available to view on Tiny township’s YouTube channel.
Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, MidlandToday.ca