Charlottetown mulling water restrictions

Dave Stewart
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Mandatory metering and water restrictions could be just around the corner for residents in Charlottetown.

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.''

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Charlottetown.As, Cudmore

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Recent comments

  • Warren
    January 03, 2016 - 16:56

    I think since water is important that we should use it wisely Just a recommendation

  • Larry Grossman
    August 15, 2012 - 21:34

    Interesting that this "water crisis" has allerted people to the fact that this Island may have to face the fact that the environment and nature that this Island poceses maybe cannot support an ever increasing number of people. This is a conversation we should have, but a totally foreign thought for our politicians, whose vision cannot reach byond the next subdivision - or empty Bio Science Park. A Government whose vision of job creation is limited to how to employ people by paving and re-aligning roads and highways needs to wake up to the fact that with a limited land base, the paving of farmland, creation of roads and subdivisons or large village like instituions on 15 acres of land (new Prince Edward Home on Maypoint Road) will leave very little land to sustain a population into the future. But try to explain that to a Premier of Mr. Ghiz calibre or his cabinet and MLAs for that matter --------- where 4-8-12 years is the end of their horizon.

  • amanda jeffreys
    August 15, 2012 - 21:07

    hold on here, did you not just complain that the Province sprung an increase in jail bird fees on you ? --- Now you are pulling the same trick on the taxpayers of Charlottetown. I personally think that Le & Rice have concocted an excuse for cleaning our pockerts a little more, - and are running with it before we notice. I sure hope some of the Councillors will stand with the people and insist we see the books on this one, ---- is it really cost efficient to install and collect under a metered system? - are there other ways less expensive ways to accomplish the same (minus the grab) ?

  • Life-long Charlottetown Resident
    August 15, 2012 - 19:48

    Well said, Robert!!! One dry summer and City Council hits the panic button. There's a lot of complaints coming from rural citizens. A lot of them, by the way, come to Charlottetown, work all day, shop, visit, etc... and use the city water. Then return home and complain about how deliquent and recklessCharlottetown's water usage is. Dont get too excited, City Council!! We voted you in to voice our opinions, not to impose your will on us.

  • betty mcdonald
    August 15, 2012 - 18:10

    Are we over-reacting ask somebody, - or course we are, the politicians, this time of municipal ilk, are seeing a way to grab , under the excuse, we HAD to. In stead of running with this, why not do some community consultation, - informing the taxpayers what this will mean, - is it really the best solution to saddled people with the cost of meters, and the cost of monotoring and billing each household. No such informationn is forth coming, and we are being kept in the dark , we that have to foot the bill. Will there be HST on this necessity of life, how can people incorporate increases into their family budgets.? This time I am afraid Mr. Lee and Mr. Rice have let their egos get the better of them. Don't copy the arrogance of the Prov. Gov. and Mr. Ghiz, talk to us, --- us that have to pay---- please.

  • solution
    August 15, 2012 - 14:53

    I am 100% behind the concept of metering your water. In fact I would like to see 2 meters on each property. 1 for domestic water inside the structure which could be charged the current or a slightly higher rate. The other meter would be for all outside water lines and it should charge at 5 or 10 times the normal price, if not more.

  • intobed
    August 15, 2012 - 09:36

    I have no problem with the concept of paying for the water I use, I just may not have enough money. Why not introduce water meters to make people conserve, but reduce our property taxes? That way the water payments would not be viewed as a tax grab, and we can still force people to conserve water.

    • get out of bed then
      August 15, 2012 - 12:08

      As it's unlikely you will see any reduction to property taxes, it is likely a better plan a little less time getting "intobed".

  • Darrin Deveau
    August 15, 2012 - 08:55

    A well field will not solve the problem...just hides it in plain sight. The city needs to be proactive. Conservation is a step forward Recycling our water is a bigger step forward. Installation of the the new storm water line is of no value to leveraging that water for good use. There is a usage for it...Why let it go away!!! Implementation of bylaws and enforcement I was amazed to see an older lady in Brighton out watering her lawn yesterday evening!! Wow....Do we really need the grass to always be green... Shame

  • Water Conservation
    August 15, 2012 - 08:51

    Unfortunately, the majority of the population don't care about not being reckless and irresponsible with their water consumption. Therefore, government needs to impose penalties on the water wasting clowns of the world with meters, enforcement officers to prevent using 200 litres to rinse glass clippings off of driveways, etc. The first clown who gets a a fine for pouring Niagra Falls on their driveway (of all things to use water on), it'll be great!

  • PEI Ladybug
    August 15, 2012 - 08:48

    What I want to know is how much the City will charge us for the "privilege" of having the water meter installed in our house. I have no problem paying for what our household uses, but don't try and charge me for installing your equipment in my house.

  • Robert
    August 15, 2012 - 08:28

    Are we over reacting? We're having a very dry summer which is causing a shortage of water, this is unusual. Granted, the Miltonvale well-field is badly needed, and when it comes on-stream in a couple of years it will greatly enhance the city's water supply. Then the problem goes away. The city, which is already in debt., it should not spend two million dollars for water meters to address a problem that will likely go away long before the meters are actually installed in everyone's home. My advice is to pass some quick bylaws regarding excessive water use as soon as possible, then actively enforce them. Set up a hotline to report bylaw offenders. Oh, and the next time I drive by a certain golf course at dusk and see all their sprinklers on I promise to drop in an remind them that there is a water shortage.

  • Sylvia
    August 15, 2012 - 07:59

    Why has it taken so long for council to do something?

  • Dick Penderyn
    August 15, 2012 - 07:48

    About time we caught up with reality. Let's not be afraid to pay for what we use!

  • Concerned Neighbour
    August 15, 2012 - 07:37

    People are NOT listening...every single morning around 6:50 a.m., there is a male on the Sherwood Road, close to the Lower Malpeque Road end, watering his grass, and yes, his lawn is beautiful. This is "our" must needed water he is using, so as a concerned citizen, what can we do to have individuals like him STOP? Let's band together to put a stop to this inconsiderate individuals! HELP preserve our much needed water!

  • a-kiss
    August 15, 2012 - 07:32

    Good. I'll be glad to see the people who keep filling their pools start paying more for it. It's frustrating when our family works to conserve water while our neighbours wash the dust off their trucks. It's shameful the way some people treat our natural resources.

  • Quiet Observer
    August 15, 2012 - 06:43

    And the city on it's property TAX GRAB keeps allowing more hotels and more apartment complexes and more development while not planning for the demand on water that will go with it. If this city had wisdom and foresight, they would put a freeze on development until the Miltonvale waterfield is active so there is enough water for everyone.

  • don
    August 15, 2012 - 06:29

    AL FREDD. do not bet on it what if next year is less rain then this year what are you going to say then?

  • Charlottetown Resident
    August 15, 2012 - 06:26

    How about we stop selling our water to the cruise ships? They take thousands and thousands of gallons - per ship. The city makes money off it - but we can't drink money!!

  • The Great Karnac
    August 15, 2012 - 06:04

    Prediction: by the time the City gets its act together, it will have rained for a month, and they will forget all about it and do nothing... again.

  • Vick
    August 15, 2012 - 05:55

    Slow down here Clifford and Eddie! The people of chtown dont need meters, YOU fools need to go find other water holes for the city which you should have done moons ago! You work for the people of chtown......There are thousands of litres of ground water everyday running out into the salt water to never be used....tap into these water ways use the water dont let it just Go Away! The ground is full of water and dont be fooled by the handful of fools that tell you different! The city will lose money big time should they put meters in and you two fools will lose your post come next election guaranteed!

  • react react react
    August 14, 2012 - 20:25

    This city could have been out front on this issue back in 1995 when amalgamation was forced on all of us by Catherine Callbeck. They could have created a regional water & sewer utility that included Cornwall, Stratford, Brackley, Miltonvale Park, and York and they could have limited sprawl development & any development that would have outstripped the capacity of the Winter River. And all those councils under Tex MacDonald, George MacDonald and Clifford Lee could have had mandatory metering brought in over a phased period. Instead all of these councils and these 3 mayors will go down in disgrace as pathetic, inept, incompetent and bungling fools who are so development hungry that they will ALLOW APARTMENT BUILDINGS BESIDE CHEMICAL PLANTS rather than put brakes on development to conserve ground water resources. Every single one of these men and women are idiots of the highest calibre and should hang their heads in shame for their disgraceful so-called public service and lack of leadership that even the most basic grade 1 education could have provided.

    August 14, 2012 - 20:20

    About time! The City Council appears to lack any form of forward thinking and only start bailing when the boat is sinking! The harbour clean up is a prime example; then there is the Convention Center blocking Queen Street so Ghiz can play "King Canute" when really we should have a picnic park in that area; then the Courts and Legislature combine to demand a new building as a "1812 Legacy" when really MLA's should be cut in half and the Courts can meditate at home ;finally there is a need for a Museum! Ater a while it gets mind numbing!

  • j
    August 14, 2012 - 20:17

    You could maybe try not watering soccer fields before you decide to dictate to us how to use the water. We are regulated to death, it is time to stop. Between the feds and PEI we are just about to be taxed out of everything we make. It can't keep up at this rate, business's are starting to slow down now, how much more.

    • nitpicker
      August 14, 2012 - 21:52

      Well they've been asking people for some time to reduce water consumption and nothing's happening. So what's left to do?

    • To J
      August 14, 2012 - 22:50

      It is time to stop wasting our precious water. Where do you think we can go get it from? It's not about anything else political and whatever else your rambling on about.

  • al fredd
    August 14, 2012 - 20:14

    If Council bully their way through this, they will end up as hated as Ghiz, --- take my advise and talk to the citizens before you rush into this costly business. You know and we know that installing meters in every house cost a pile of money and if it not justifiable costwise, you should not run with this. --- Mr. Rice is so full of himself that the rest of you should step back and inssure this is the wisest way to go. One dry summer does not an eternity make.

    • Ocean Beach
      August 15, 2012 - 07:47

      How much Talking and Warnings (in response to the Comment fr.) AL FREDD do Citizens need before heavy handed measures need to be implimented for the DUH, DUM- "I AM ENTITLED " Citizens Listen, Learn and Heed Warnings for the greater good of ALL Citizens & the Community ? --- Working by scientific water consumption FACTS, It Is MY OPINION THAT once a Household consumes more Water than the Facts state, THEN and ONLY THEN should Citizens be required TO be BILLED for the Overuse of that Water.--- In calling a spade, a spade We All know there are Islanders, Charlottownians who don't have an iota of common sense and don't give a dam about Anyone but Themselves. They're Ignorant but They own a business or Mommy & Daddy own a business contribute $$$ to political campaigns and can get away with bloody murder because of Who they are. --- MESSAGE FOR MAYOR LEE. ORGANIZE A HOTLINE FOR CITIZENS TO CONTACT TO REPORT THE " WATER PIGS." MAKE CERTAIN ACTION IS TAKEN TO HEFTILY FINE PEOPLE WHO OVER-CONSUME OUR Precious WATER, REGARDLESS OF WHO THEY ARE & HOW MUCH $-MONEY THEY'VE CONTRBUTED TO YOUR OR ANYONE ELSE'S POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS Or How Much They "Brighton Like" pay in Taxes. --- This IS all that needs to be done, there's NO Need for a Money Grab WATER METER program. There's NO NEED for Water Meters. Water Police and Citizens Report the WATER PIGS who Now ARE being looked down on as Selfish, Foolish Pigs.