Household water meters in Cornwall gets renewed interest

Cornwall Coun. Dean Hollingsworth asks a question during a special council meeting on Thursday, Dec. 7, 2018 on the water and sewer budget. Hollingsworth says he's open to having a council discussion on residential water meters. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

CORNWALL – Some Cornwall councillors have whet their appetite on exploring water meters for your city home.

Right now, households are on a flat rate billing system based on the number of fixtures in your house. Having water meters in Cornwall homes has been an off-and-on discussion with city councils for well over a decade.

The first councillor to dive into the subject Thursday was Dean Hollingsworth during a special city council meeting to pass the water and sewer budget.

In an interview with Cornwall Newswatch, Hollingsworth said he’s “prepared to honestly entertain the discussion at the council table” instead of having the idea come from city staff.

“I think we need to have the discussion (on water meters),” Hollingsworth told CNW. “As was mentioned, 85-90 per cent of municipalities are already doing it. They can’t all be wrong.”

The challenge will be selling the public on spending $8-10 million to buy the 15,000 meters.

“Yes, absolutely (it will be a challenge). What you have to explain to people potentially, if you honestly believe it’s a more equitable system…if that’s truly the case, then you have to pitch it to people. In the long run, it’s kind of the road to go. Maybe it won’t be. Maybe $9 million won’t be worth the benefits but I think that’s a decision council as a whole has to make,” Hollingsworth said.

While no data has been put into a report, around 1,000 Cornwall homes are on a metered billing pilot project to collect usage data, which started in 2009.

Hollingsworth speculates there is “probably at least a half a dozen reports” from city staff over the last 15-20 years and it “maybe worthwhile seeing that first” before making a decision.

Water is something well used in Cornwall. At a household average of 700 liters per day, Infrastructure General Manager John St. Marseille says that’s about double the Canadian average.