Richmond’s water users show little interest in meters


Richmond, Canada — (METERING.COM) — August 20, 2007 – Since 2004 residents in the City of Richmond in Vancouver have been offered a no-cost program to have water meters installed in their homes and thus pay for actual usage rather than the flat rate previously charged – but surprisingly few are taking advantage of the offer.

So far about 40 per cent of the residents in the city have opted to take advantage of the Volunteer Water Meter Program and move to metered billing, but according to Neptune Technology Group Canada, the company that developed the program with the City of Richmond and is installing the meters, the number of requests is slowing down quite considerably. A Neptune representative says that when there are fewer than five people living in a home, the likelihood is that bills will decrease once a water meter has been installed.

Richmond introduced the program to encourage water conservation, and the flat annual rate has been hiked several times in the last four years – by 15 per cent in 2006 alone. In theory this should have led to more and more people opting for a metered supply, given that water rates are rising at a faster pace on the flat rate than on the metered rate.

The program has what it calls a ‘first year guarantee’. This means that if residents’ metered water and sewer bills for the first year on a meter exceed what they would have paid on the flat rate, they can apply for the difference to be credited to their account. But even this guarantee hasn’t led as many people to switch to a meter as the City would have liked.

A dedicated web site tells homeowners about the program, stressing the need for conservation, citing some case studies where water bills have been considerably reduced after meters were installed, and reminding residents that leaks and faulty appliances can be detected quickly and easily if water supply is metered.

Now the City has extended the program to 2009 and is urging residents to sign up. After that date water meters could become mandatory for all homeowners, who may then have to pay the cost of the meter themselves.