Water conservation efforts in Naramata will be rounded out by some hard data gleaned from a pilot project that got the nod last week.
The $249,000 project, given the financial go-ahead Thursday by the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen, calls for the installation of 70 water meters in homes and business around the community.
Naramata Director Karla Kozakevich said the aim of the project, mentioned in the community’s 2010 water conservation plan, is simply to collect data on usage, which will be used eventually to set prices.
“It’s very difficult to set water rates when you don’t know what usage is,” Kozakevich said.
Allan Patton, the rural Oliver director, was the only board member who spoke out against the plan. He said water meters are the first step down a “very slippery slope.”
He fears the meters will lead to reduced water consumption, which will lead to eventual contractions in allotments available through water licences.
“I want that buffer even though I’m not using 100 per cent of my allotment,” he said.
Patton was also worried the test meters will be forced onto agriculturalists, which apparently won’t be the case.
“If they’re very opposed to it, we’re not going to force it,” RDOS engineer Liisa Bloomfield said.
She said volunteers who participate in the project will receive information on their usage, but will still pay the regular flat rate for water.
Bloomfield also said the pilot has already received interest from commercial and residential property owners.
The $200,000 contract to install the meters was awarded to Neptune Technology Group, which has also supplied meters in Penticton and Summerland. The other $49,000 budgeted for the project will cover costs for RDOS staff to oversee it.
The RDOS operates the Naramata water system, which operates under a single water licence, and has about 750 connections.