Water meters would cost Cornwall $14 million

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By Nick Seebruch
Water meters would cost Cornwall $14 million
A faucet.

CORNWALL, Ontario – At their meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 13, Cornwall City Council heard different options for implementing water meters in the city.

This study was done as a part of the City’s updating of its Water Conservation and Servicing Master Plan.

Adding water meters for every user in the City would cost roughly $14 million. The goal of moving to meters would be to reduce the overall water usage by the City of Cornwall.

A presentation made by Watson and Associates gave Cornwall two options in regards to water meters, the first would be adding a $85 surcharge to each users water bill for seven years to pay for the meters and their installation, the second would be that the City borrow the money up front and pay off the debt with an increase in water bill rates spread out over the number of years.

A survey conducted by the city saw the majority of respondents opposed to the idea of installing water meters entirely.

“People don’t like change. 61 per cent of people are against this because they see it as a tax grab,” said Councillor Elaine MacDonald.

In the long term however, residents would see their bills go down. According to Watson and Associates, the average household water consumption is expected to go down from 326 cubic meters currently to 203 cubic meters per year by 2030. In that same period of time, Cornwall’s water revenue would decrease from $9.1 million in 2020 to $7.2 million in 2030.

Proportionally however, non-residential consumers would see their bills increase more with water metres than their residential counterparts. Watson and Associates told Council that non-residential users make up one-third of the City’s water use, but pay only 18 per cent of the total. With water meters, non-residential users will be paying 34 per cent of the City’s total water bill.

Councillor Claude McIntosh raised concerns about the cost of installing the meters.

“That combines what my water bill has gone up the past seven year combined,” he said. “With other increases tacked on, you could be looking at $110 to $112 increases annually.”

Carl Goodwin of the City’s Environmental Services Department told Council that meters would bring Cornwall in-line with the rest of the province, and the rest of the country.

“We are the only city of our size in Canada that doesn’t have water meters,” he said.

As a city, Cornwall’s average daily water consumption is 100 cubic meters a day above the provincial average, and 200 cubic meters a day above the province’s least thirsty municipality, Guelph.

Council voted to have Watson and Associates conduct public engagement to get more feedback about meters, and have the St. Lawrence River Institute conduct outreach explaining the importance of water conservation.

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