Although the data is limited, early numbers indicate there are potential savings for customers in Comox who switch to paying for actual water used in their homes.
This was a finding by Don Jacquest, the director of finance for the Town, who presented council during a committee of the whole meeting Wednesday with a residential water metering update.
In the report, Jacquest noted there are more than 1,300 single-family homes metered, which represents about 30 per cent of customers.
Jacquest added more than 1,300 readings were captured electronically this past month.
The Town purchases its water from the Comox Valley Regional District’s water system at a cost of over $1.4 million per year for just over 2.4 million cubic metres of water, providing water for more than 5,500 customers.
Almost all of those customers are charged a flat-rate fee of $303 per unit, per year. Jacquest added there are about 50 customers who are metered and who are billed quarterly for their actual water use.
Coun. Barbara Price inquired about how metering could impact strata units.
“Typically, the meters are installed on the connection lines. If there’s one connection line for multiple units, then they get one water meter. What typically happens is we generally put the meter at the property line. That way we capture three kinds of water use,” explained Jacquest.
“We capture the water that goes all the way to the unit, whether it’s residential or commercial, we capture any irrigation systems that tee off between our connection point and the building, and we capture any line losses because the line in between the edge of the property is the responsibility of the property owner. If we want to capture all three of those, the meter bascially has to be at the edge of the property line.”
Jacquest added that, based on data provided from the City of Courtenay for multi-family units that have been metered for years, water consumption drops significantly.
” … most of them are using below a mark of 60 per cent less than single-family homes. Typically, the strata uses much less water than a single-family home on a single-family lot. That’s simply because stratas tend to not have so much landscaping,” he said.
“The other thing is that it’s going to be a corporate decision of the strata to decide whether they want to swap from paying a flat (fee) over to paying by the meter. The strata is free to continue to pay a flat rate in perpetutity if they want.”
Jacquest also indicated in his report that, beginning Jan. 1, the CVRD will increase its bulk water rate from $0.59 to $0.62 per cubic metre. He added the increase will cost the Twn an extra $72,000 for 2012 and will have to be included in the water budget for 2012 and future years.