Submetering Water: Preparing for Demand and Climate Change
Updated on February 12th, 2021
The September 16 story in the Vancouver Sun further reinforces our view that it makes good business sense that water, like other utilities, be submetered. We recognize that water metering for single family homes is a long term project. The boom of new construction and retro-fit multi-residential properties in Metro Vancouver can and should be metered for water, like commercial and institutional properties. This will drive conservation through accountability.
From the Vancouver Sun story:
Hans Schreier, instructor of watershed management at the University of B.C., said Metro could solve many of its problems by turning to universal water metering. If people have to pay for water, he said, they are more likely to conserve it, which is the experience in cities such as Richmond, Surrey and West Vancouver.
Smart meters, he estimates, would reduce water use by 30 per cent. But while municipalities are calling for meters in new homes, many hesitate to make them mandatory. Even Richmond, which requires metering in all single-family homes, has not demanded meters in multi-family facilities.
“Metro is metering the new houses but there is no provision for the old houses to convert and that, to me, is stupid,” Schreier said.
He said Metro could also insist all automated lawn-watering systems be certified by the Irrigation Association of B.C. and promote rainwater collection for outdoor plants and gardens.
“If we would go to 30-per-cent reduction (in water use), we wouldn’t have to expand the dams or build new intakes,” he said. “These are all very expensive and we should be looking at alternatives.”
North Vancouver District Mayor Darrell Mussatto said water metering is likely inevitable, but it’s up to individual municipalities to decide if they want to impose it. Many balk, either because they see a lack of financial benefits or deem water conservation programs, such as low-flush toilets, a higher priority.
Water conservation is key, Mussatto said, especially with another million more people expected to live here in 30 years and predictions of longer seasons of hot, dry weather in the summer and less precipitation in the winter.
“It’s about changing behaviours,” he said. “
It is proven in many studies that consumption of utilities drops if individuals and business consumers can see what they are using and subsequently billed for their use. As Mayor Mussatto said and was quoted in the story above, “it is about changing behaviors’.