Frequently Asked Questions about Universal Water Metering

This page will be frequently updated as we share responses provided to the questions water users in Lake Country pose.  Email engineering@lakecountry.bc.ca if you have a question that has not already been posted here.   Download the Quick Fact Sheet.

Updated: 6 March 2015

Benefits of Metering

  • Why is the District installing meters?

Meters tell us how much water our community uses. This information will help the District to deliver services more efficiently, plan infrastructure replacement and upgrades, and predict how much water Lake Country farmers, residents, and businesses will need into the future. In this way, meters help to ensure there is enough water to support our growing community.

  • How will the meters help the District manage water?

Metering has been shown to reduce consumption by 15% to 30%, simply by providing water users with direct feedback. When a community uses less water, reservoir expansion and watermain upgrades can be avoided or deferred. As well, with better information, the District can more quickly identify and control leaky pipes.

  • How does this project support the District’s Water Master Plan?

In the Water Master Plan, the District set a goal of increasing water use efficiency by 25% by 2030. Over the summer of 2012, the District noticed that metered residential customers used only 34% of the amount of water their non-metered neighbours used. Providing everyone with a meter will reduce overall consumption in the District and make the system fairer. The Water Master Plan also relies on federal and provincial funding. Grant applications are looked upon more favourably from communities with meters and reduced water consumption.

  • What will I gain from having a meter?

Your meter and water bill will tell you how much water your household uses. You can then look for ways to reduce your consumption, control your water costs, and contribute to the sustainability of water resources in Lake Country.

  • What will the community gain from everyone having a meter?

As a community, we all save money by reducing our water use. When demand decreases, the District has to treat and distribute less water, requiring less chemicals and energy. It also defers infrastructure costs and decreases the size of capital projects. These savings will be passed on to Lake Country’s water customers over the long term.

 

Impacts of the Project

  • I already have a meter. Does this project affect me?

Yes. If you currently have a meter, technology that allows the meter to be read remotely needs to be installed. More details about retrofits and installation will be provided closer to the time they are scheduled to occur.

  • How much will it cost me?

Meters will be supplied and installed at no charge to single family residential and agricultural properties that receive their water from the District. The cost of the metering program is being funded through existing water rates.

There will be a charge to properties that require a meter pit due to their internal plumbing configuration or poor quality piping. The municipality will pay up to a maximum of $1,000 dollars for the supply and installation of a meter pit. Typically meter pits cost $2,600 dollars to install.

  • Why would I have to pay for a meter pit?

 The preferred location to install the water meter is inside the house next to the home owner’s shut off valve. This typically costs $500 dollars. Installing a meter pit typically costs $2,600 dollars. Due to the large cost difference, a decision was made that it would be fairest to the rate payers for the District to pay up to a maximum of $1,000 dollars.

  • Will my rate change?

It will depend on your water consumption. The water metering program is designed to be revenue neutral, meaning high water users will pay more and lower water user will pay less, but the overall system revenue requirements will not increase because of water metering. Bonafide agricultural operations will continue to receive water at a reduced affordable rate.

  • How do I find out how much water I use and when will I see metered billing?

Once meters have been installed the amount of water used during each billing cycle will be reported on the water bill. You will first notice it in 2016, when you receive a “mock” bill.  Although you will pay the regular bill, the mock bill will show how much water was used compared to the previous billing cycle; and how much it would have cost if you were paying by volume. A new rate structure will come into effect starting in 2017.

  • I am on a private water utility. Will I be receiving a meter?

No, not from the District or as part of this project. Private water utilities such as Alto, Kal Pine, and Eastside water utility are responsible for their own water systems and are not included in the District’s water metering project.

 

Installation

  • Where will the meter go?

Most meters go in your basement near the main water shut-off valve and are easy to install. Indoor installation is easier than outdoor installation and is preferred because it avoids issues with freezing. Technology that allows the meter to be read from outside your home will also be installed. Most people find this remote-read technology to be convenient as District staff will not need to have to access your property or your home to read your meter.

  • Who owns and maintains the meter?

The District owns and maintains the meter. It is the home owner’s responsibility to ensure that the meter does not freeze and that the meter is not bypassed.

  • My water pipe is not accessible. What do I do?

Under the British Columbia Building Code, the main water shut-off valve should be easily accessible. However, if this is not the case in your home, installers can usually cut a hole and put in an access box that allows future maintenance as required. In some circumstances, it may not make sense to install your meter indoors. The meter would then be placed underground in a pit where the water service enters your property.

  • Will it make a mess?

In a few cases, construction or landscaping modifications may be necessary to provide access to your water pipe. In these circumstances, staff and contractors are trained to make the necessary modifications and will professionally restore the site following completion of the work.

  • Who will be installing the meters?

Agricultural and commercial meters will be installed by District staff or a licensed contractor. Residential meters will be put in by licensed contractors that are fully trained and experienced in installation procedures. A person at least 18 years old must be home. For your security, an appointment will be scheduled beforehand and anyone entering your home will produce photo identification.  We are committed to making the process as easy for you as possible.

  • Can I install the meter myself?

No. The meters must be put in by either District staff or the District’s contractors.

 

Scheduling

  • When does this project start?

Implementation began in April 2014 with agricultural connections in the Oyama area, as well as commercial, institutional and industrial customers. Work on Winfield, Carr’s Landing and Okanagan Centre agricultural connections and residential connections is scheduled to begin in early 2015.

  • How do I schedule an appointment? booklet cover as a graphic

You will be contacted with further directions closer to the date your meter is scheduled to be installed. Until that time, no action is required.  Please watch for an appointment notice booklet in your mail.  It contains a unique reference number for your property so you can book an appointment that is convenient to you.

  • When will someone be coming to my house?

You will be contacted with more information about making an appointment closer to the time your meter is scheduled to be installed. Once bookings begin in your area, you will be able to choose a time that suits your schedule. Typically, the entire installation procedure takes approximately 90 minutes.

 

Remote-Read Meters

  • Why did the District choose remote-read technology?

Remote-read technology can collect data more frequently and is estimated to reduce labor costs by as much a 90% compared to traditional technology. With remote-read equipment, staff does not have to enter your property to read your meter.

  • Is remote-read technology safe?

Remote-read meters use radiofrequencies to transmit data, similar to garage door openers, baby monitors and Wi-Fi. Their output power is 0.1 watts, which is only 1/3 of a cell phone output. They also only transmit for 0.007 seconds every 14 seconds, for a total of less than one minute per day.  Every 7½ minutes the meter transmits a 1 watt signal for 0.007 seconds for utilities that use a fixed repeater system.  The technology is deemed safe – meeting Health Canada and Industry Canada requirements.

There are currently over 4 million Neptune radio frequency meters installed across Canada.  Read the FAQ about remote-radio frequency.   Find out more about the specific remote-read technology that is being used.

See what Health Canada says about consumer radiation related to radio frequency signals: Health Canada and Industry Canada radio frequency and health FAQ’s.

  • Do I have to have remote-read meter in my home?

The District is proposing an opt-out option with a $10 per month fee to recoup manual reading labour cost. You will still require a meter but it will have a different style of meter head that does not transmit a radio frequency.

 

Metering Agricultural Connections

  • Will metering affect the agricultural allotment system?

Metering will not directly change the allotment system. It will, however, ensure that everyone is using the system fairly and provide more accurate measurement of how much water the agricultural sector uses as a whole. This will improve forecasts of future demand and help secure water sources to support the agricultural sector into the future.

  • Why are agricultural connections also being metered?

It is difficult to manage what you do not measure. Agricultural water use accounts for more than half of the District’s annual consumption. By metering all users within the system, everyone, including agricultural producers, can contribute to ensuring the community’s water supply is safe and sustainable.

  • Will I still require a flow control valve?

Yes. Flow control valves help to vastly reduce peak flows and they also ensure that the distribution system does not exceed its designed limitations. All agricultural connections will be required to have a flow control valve at the stand pipe.

  • Will implementation follow the same process for agricultural irrigation connections?

As well as a meter, agricultural users will have a backflow prevention device installed. This will protect the community’s water supply from contamination and ensure drinking water continues to meet high quality standards and residents’ expectations.

Meter installation will occur in three steps for agricultural irrigation connections:

  1. A District staff person will visit the producer’s property to determine the type of backflow prevention device required and the location of the meter. This will also be an opportunity to discuss the metering program and installation procedures.
  2. Contact will be made, either by phone or in-person, to schedule an installation appointment.
  3. At the scheduled time, a District staff member will install a remote-read meter and a backflow prevention device.

 

More Information

  • I have other questions. Who can I talk to?

You can call the engineering department at 250-766-6677 or send an email to engineering@lakecountry.bc.ca.

  • Where can I find more information?

The District of Lake Country’s website will be kept up-to-date with new information and progress updates. We will also be posting information about the project on Facebook and Twitter and encourage you to join our online conversations.

 

Video clips:

Standard irrigation water meter

Backflow prevention and winterizing the backflow prevention device