Are more water meters on the horizon in Delta?

The City of Delta could be taking another look at how it approaches its water meter program.

During a recent Delta council discussion about the program, which is designed for single-family residential dwellings only and does not include duplexes or strata units, engineering director Steven Lan noted Delta has taken a targeted, incremental approach to installing meters.

Noting all agricultural properties are metered, he said the program for homes, introduced in 2007, now has over 1,000 voluntary meters installed.

“Certainly over the last several years we’ve taken a strong focus on getting secondary suites metered, so those are all metered now and we have approximately 3,900 that have been installed on secondary suites. The other thing I’d note is that through development, new homes are required to have water meters. So, to date, we’ve had about 1,600 meters installed through that avenue,” explained Lan.

He said at $2,000 each, meters are quite expensive, so expanding the program creates a significant capital cost.

Asked if might be time to re-evaluate the initiative, Lan agreed the engineering department could provide an update to council.

As far as the regional water rate, which was recently discussed at Metro Vancouver, city manager Sean McGill agreed there’s concern about rising costs, a subject that will be brought forward at an upcoming Delta council business plan workshop along with the water metering program.

A major change introduced four years ago for the city's secondary suite program makes it mandatory for homes with secondary units to be hooked up to meters. Previously, homes with suites that generate an income for the owners were charged two utility fees.

The Delta program remains voluntary for everyone else, and has a wait list to have a meter installed at no cost.

A recent survey found of elected councillors and mayors in the region, 68 per cent support mandatory water metering. The survey by Jordi Honey-Rosés, associate professor at the University of B.C.’s School of Community and Regional Planning, and graduate student Pascal Volker, also found just 19 per cent are against and 14 per cent remain neutral.

“Council members from jurisdictions that currently have no policy in place express significantly less support for water metering than those with mandatory or semi-mandatory policies. These jurisdictions represent the biggest challenge for advancing water metering in Metro Vancouver,” their report states.

“An overwhelming majority of council members are in favour of exploring the benefits of water metering in their city, especially among those who are undecided on mandatory water metering.”

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