When residents turn on their taps, the water they consume isn’t metered by the Town of Golden.
Commercial buildings and businesses pay for their use. In many municipalities across Canada, residents have a pay-per-use system for the water they consume.
Councillor Caleb Moss proposed that council direct Town of Golden staff to research the cost of purchase, install, and potential funding opportunities for residential water metering, and report back to council in time for budget deliberations.
“Water is an essential resource upon which all life, including all ecosystems and all local communities depend,” the motion read.
Council agreed unanimously to support the motion.
“Part of my take on this is there’s only certain things we can do as a local government, both to protect the aquifer and be good citizens of this resource,” Moss said.
There are a few reasons Moss brought this motion forward to council. A water metering system ensures that the user pays, which would bring in funds for the municipality through residences, and businesses from restaurants to short term rentals. Under the current system, short term rentals are not required to pay any extra for the water utility.
Already, the Town of Golden has test metres on approximately 20 houses in town, which can be monitored to see how much the residential homes use.
Moss, who owns and operates Bacchus Books in downtown Golden, says he pays more for water usage in his store than a resident does. He said water metering makes sure the water is paid for by those who use it.
“If we’re going down the water metering route, really we’re saying we’re being stewards,” Moss said. “We have a collective responsibility with it.”
This is not the first time the Town of Golden has looked into residential water metering. Nearly a decade ago, Town staff researched the implementation of the residential water metering system, but it was deemed not feasible.
“There was a time years and years ago, when there were grants for such things,” said Town of Golden CAO Jon Wilsgard. “I don’t know the extent and availability for third-party funding.”
Last time Town of Golden staff researched the possibility of introducing residential water metering, the cost was around $1 million. Staff will now research the costs involved with residential water metering.
“The goal is to go full cost recovery on your utility,” Moss said, explaining that as users pay for the water they use, the money would go to recovering the cost to install water meters.
Records have shown that water metres do curb the use of water, and makes people more aware of how much of the utility they are using.
“I think it’s a worthy enterprise researching and finding out really what it would take to install residential domestic metres throughout the community. I think it’s a responsible thing to do,” Wilsgard said. “Overall, it’s a measure that is responsible in this day and age, and certainly the record has shown that metres do substantially curb the overuse of water for sure.”