© Nigel Armstrong - The Guardian
From left, Charlottetown City Councillors Edward Rice, David MacDonald, Danny Redmond and Terry Bernard listen to council business Tuesday during the regular October monthly meeting.
Within seven years, all homeowners in the city of Charlottetown will be paying for the amount of water they use.
City council approved on Tuesday night a plan to install water meters on every home, beginning late this year with the goal of having every single home on a metered system by 2019.
And it's not going to cost the homeowners anything. Now, approximately 860 homes already have meters on them as part of the city's volunteer metering program. Those homeowners will be getting the money they spent to install the meters back.
Under a metered system, homeowners pay for what they use rather than the old flat rate system. A metered system also makes users conscious of the amount of water they are using because they're paying for what they use.
Water conservation has become a big issue in the city these past few years as the Winter River-Tracadie Bay Watershed has been taxed with the demand. So much so that the city is now in the process of developing a new wellfield in Miltonvale. A resolution to get that project started was passed Tuesday night.
Coun. Eddie Rice, chairman of the city's Water and Sewer Utility committee, joked that Mayor Clifford Lee's house is going to be first on the list for meters. While Rice didn't provide a list of where the city will be starting this year, The Guardian has learned that the neighbourhoods of East Royalty, West Royalty and Winsloe will likely be taken care of first.
"We're going to see water saved, we're going to see the public's wishes fulfilled because we've received many, many requests for metering and it's happening,'' Rice said following council's regular public monthly meeting.
The committee chairman said not only is metering every house the right thing to do in a conservation way, it's also the smart thing to do when it comes to accessing infrastructure dollars.
"It sends a message. If we don't meter (every house) I don't think we have any chance of getting (federal and provincial) water money. This shows that we've taken every effort possible to make it possible to save water and now, hopefully, we'll get a fair hearing with the federal government and the provincial government with money.''
Some of those who have water meters say their water bills have gone down about 20 to 25 per cent per year.
"Some of them save $120 per bill,'' Rice said.
In the spring of 2010, bylaw amendments were finalized requiring that water meters be installed on all new water service connections. The option became available for existing single-family residential customers to switch to a metered rate from the flat rate. The change came in response to feedback from the community.