Cornwall water meters will cost an additional $770-950 per household: report

In this December 2018, file photo, Cornwall Coun. Dean Hollingsworth asks a question during a special council meeting to pass the water and sewer budget. Hollingsworth was open to having a council discussion on residential water meters. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

CORNWALL – City council is expected to lay the groundwork tonight (Tuesday) for a water conservation and servicing plan.

A big part of that plan is water meters for residential households – an idea that’s been floated for years but got new life after Coun. Dean Hollingsworth threw out the idea in December 2018.

The plan would potentially see homeowners finance the meters as an addition to their biannual bill and “have the debt paid back by homeowners over a 10 year period,” a report to city council states.

Right now, households are billed twice a year on a flat-rate system, based on the number of bathrooms and outside taps. There are 16,600 residential water accounts on flat rate billing.

Another option is a hybrid plan where homeowners wanting a meter could opt-in.

Based on the city’s calculations, the water meters would cost $770 to $950 each plus the interest to finance for 10 years.

The city surveyed residents earlier this year and part of tonight’s report includes those survey results. Here are some of the highlights:

  • 54% do not see water meters reducing water usage
  • 61% do not believe water conservation will reduce costs
  • 77% are not in favour of an additional $95 per year (since recalculated to $77 per year for 10 years) to pay for the meters

In addition to the online tally, the city received nearly 1,000 public comments.

Given the considerable objection from survey takers about financing water meters over 10 years, staff are looking at alternatives such as financing it out of the projected savings from going to a metered program (conservation).

Based on the city’s research, people across Canada use about 250 liters of water per person per day while in Cornwall it’s about 450 liters.

Cornwall is the “only community in Ontario with a population over 40,000” that does not have water meters, the report adds.

Tonight’s meeting starts at 7 p.m.