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Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen ponders universal water metering

Around 3,200 residential properties would be affected by metering system
The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen is considering a metering system. This would affect 10 water systems owned or managed by the regional district. (Black Press file photo)

The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen is considering universal water metering for all the systems it owns and manages.

“One of the most effective ways to reduce water consumption is to introduce water meters and rate schedules that link the amount of water used to an incremental fee schedule,” Shelley Fiorito, projects coordinator with the regional district said in a report to the board.

At present, there are 10 water systems owned or managed by the regional district. Only the West Bench system is fully metered. The Naramata water system has some meters in place and some pits ready to go for metering.

The proposal would add roughly 3,500 water meter connections, which would be underground. The estimated cost is around $3,500 for each connection, Fiorito said, but added that the cost estimate could change.

There would be a phased approach for implementation of the water meters, she said.

Some of the systems, including Willowbrook , Olalla and Okanagan Falls have low storage. Faulder’s water system is at capacity and the Okanagan Falls system is nearing capacity. The Sun Valley system has infrastructure limitations. Missezula Lake’s system has an unstable water supply.

Moving to a metered water system is expected to be a boon for the regional district.

“For newly metered systems, an average of a 30 per cent reduction in use is expected in the first year,” Fiorito said. “This reduction results in benefits across the water system; residents have a better awareness of consumption and recognize ways to reduce in dry seasons, the wear on the infrastructure is also reduced and the life span of the system increases.”

The report recommends a tiered water metering system, with costs increasing for those who use more water. Such systems are in place in communities in the region, including Vernon, Summerland, Kelowna and West Kelowna.

“As a tool to discourage overuse or wasteful consumption, a tiered billing structure is proposed to ensure residents remain vigilant in water conservation activities,” Fiorito said.

John Arendt

About the Author: John Arendt

John Arendt has worked as a journalist for more than 30 years. He has a Bachelor of Applied Arts in Journalism degree from Ryerson Polytechnical Institute.
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