Saint John’s water department has hired a consultant to look at how the city charges its customers and whether it makes sense to introduce residential water meters.
“This will look at universal metering and answer some of the questions that we have and we don’t have answers for at this time — in terms of what is the cost, is there a true cost savings if we do it, what are the pros and cons,” Brent McGovern, commissioner of Saint John Water, told city councillors.
Hemson Consulting Ltd. of Toronto has been hired for $123,625.
The overwhelming majority of homes in Saint John are charged the same amount for unlimited water and sewer use, and there are no financial incentives for customers to use less.
The owner of a single-family home pays $1,296 a year for water and sewer service, a charge forecast to jump to $1,386 in 2018 and to $1,440 in 2019.
Several times over the years, the municipal service has looked into the installation of water meters.
As recently as 2013, Saint John began moving on a plan to meter every customer on the water system.
But last fall, the city set the plan aside, citing “significant” implementation costs.
With this new study, the issue could be back on the table.
“This consultant has transitioned other municipalities from flat rate to universal metering,” McGovern said. “So it’s good to see that level of experience that they have.”
‘I certainly think it’s worth looking at.’
– Terry Hunter, water customer
Many city water users who spoke to CBC said they are concerned with rising water rates but are taking a wait-and-see attitude toward meters.
“In our house there’s just my wife and I, so we don’t use a lot of water, as opposed to some other folks that might,” said Terry Hunter. “I mean everybody has to pay their share, I get that, but I certainly think…