Mayor’s corner: The last word on water meters (maybe)

Tyler Warman
For the Lakeside Leader

Well with a little luck, this will be the last column you have to read about water meters for a few weeks. If you haven’t read my three previous ones, you should; they can be found online at www.slavelake.ca, but hopefully here with number four we have it figured out.

Over the past couple weeks we have been working to figure out the best way to go about dealing with a temporary system for billing for the numerous failed water meters.

We think we have a temporary solution, so here it goes.
We heard loud and clear that residents wanted us to look at historical data and that is our plan. In April you will receive your utility bill for the billing period of March 1st to March 31st.

On that bill one of two things will happen. If your bill says ‘Actual,’ your meter is working. We bill you based on normal consumption. If your meter has not been working, it will state ‘Estimated Average Consumption’ and administration will look at your consumption over the last 24 months and develop your average usage. We will do our best to factor in any changes or trends in water usage so your bill will reflect the most accurate historical data and most recent trends we have.

So if you’re asking what this means, here is a simple breakdown. If the data shows on average you use 120 cubes a year, we will set your monthly bill at 10 cubes and that will be your usage until your meter is fixed.

Our idea is to find the average for the bills with broken meters once, so our staff aren’t estimating each month. Once we have a replacement meter, we will begin making appointments to change it out. Once your meter is fixed you will move back to being billed on your actual consumption rate.

You will probably receive a notice in your utility bill within the next few days that has some generic information. Over the next month the finance department will come up with a fair historical average for meters that have failed.

We know that things change, including family situations, or you move into a new place with a broken water meter. Maybe you are planning on going away for a month this year, or you have recently changed the equipment in your house. We have a plan for all these scenarios. While it’s not perfect, with a little understanding it should get us by temporarily. The answers to those questions will appear on your April bill.

Our long-term plan is to change out all the meters but it will take several months. We will have to wait for the manufacturer to build up supply. As mentioned previously, we are expecting 1,000 meters in late May, if the supplier meets their commitment.

We appreciate all our residents’ patience and understanding as we work through the process of changing out all these warrantied meters.

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