No new free Delta water meters for a while

Homeowners hoping to save a few bucks on their utility bills will have to wait a while thanks to COVID-19.

The City of Delta has put the voluntary water meter program on hold due to the need to prioritize capital spending as part of a budget that had to be revised due to the pandemic response.

One homeowner recently wrote to council stating seniors need a break and that they can’t conserve any more water than they’re doing now, but find themselves paying the same amount as large families that obviously use more.

A staff response was that the program has been temporarily deferred but the request for a meter has been put on the list for future installations.

As far as the program, the city could be taking another look at how it approaches water meters.

Last fall, during a city 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 has been discussed at Metro Vancouver, city manager Sean McGill agreed there’s concern about rising costs.

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.

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