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Mandatory metering and water restrictions could be just around the corner for residents in Charlottetown.
As soon as the city's water and sewer committee has a bylaw ready Mayor Clifford Lee will call a meeting of council.
"From my perspective, I think we need to have the ability to legislate what water can be used for and what water can't be used for,'' Lee said Tuesday. "In the current situation I think we should have already legislated (that) you can't use water for watering lawns . . . or to wash your vehicle. I think that should be in place right now.''
Council would still have to vote in favour of mandatory water restrictions and in order to pass a bylaw council, the city must give legislation three separate readings before it becomes law.
Dry weather has been persistent and the combination of high water use and limited rainfall is having an impact on stream flow in the upper reaches of the Winter River, the city's only source of drinking water. Both the Brackley and Cudmore branches of the Winter River are dry.
Coun. Eddie Rice, chair of the Water and Sewer Utility, says his committee is ready.
"We've got our guidelines and bylaw all ready and have had (it ready) for two months. We're just trying guidelines first and they have worked,'' Rice said, referring to the city asking residents last month to reduce water usage. "People, I believe, are trying to respond.''
Still the city's water system is running at 92 per cent capacity for the summer and a frightening 98 per cent for the year.
"We're still within our quota that's allowed in permits but we're not within our moral scope at all,'' Rice said. "We have a responsibility to our neighbours and our neighbourhoods. We have to pay more than lip service and we are.''
Lee and Rice agree that mandatory metering has to implemented as soon as possible. It will cost the city $2 million to attach meters to homes that currently don't have them. It's mandatory for all new homes to have water meters so the legislation, if council ultimately decides to go that route, would affect everyone else.
"I would suggest the utility needs to find a way to bring in mandatory metering on every property in the city much sooner rather than later,'' Lee said.
"It definitely has to be put in place,'' Rice added.
Much like a power bill has Islanders more mindful of electricity usage, Lee believes meters would have the same effect with water consumption.
Lee dismisses any notion that it's a money grab.
"It has been proven senior citizens (for example) who have a meter in their home, their water and sewer utility bill is much lower than the $500 a year which is the flat rate customers are paying so it's not a money grab.''
Lee said there's been enough talk, time for council to do something.
"Some members of city council are hesitant to do anything for fear people don't want to be on a meter but at some point council needs to understand you're elected to make decisions. You can't sit on the fence for your whole political career.''