The RMOW is continuing to explore implementing volumetric billing via water metering to industrial, commercial, and institutional (ICI) properties across Whistler. This expands on the pilot project launched in Function Junction in 2019.
In 2019 the RMOW launched a pilot project to collect data via volumetric water metering in Function Junction. The pilot project included the installation of water meters (for properties that did not have a meter), the collection of water use data and the issuance of a mock bill to water users. The intent of the data collection and mock billing was to enable ICI users to better understand their water usage and identify opportunities to reduce consumption.
The RMOW implemented 'Phase 2' of the pilot project in 2021 to ICI properties outside of Function Junction, and is now implementing 'Phase 3' of the project in 2022, which includes ICI properties in Whistler Village, Upper Village and the Benchlands.
Neptune Technology Group has been chosen as the contractor and is in the process of contacting strata managers or property owners for water meter surveys at properties in Whistler Village, Upper Village and the Benchlands.
This is part of a data collection stage to understand water usage among ICI customers in Whistler. There will be no change to the billing structure at this time.
Water metering has been shown to encourage water conservation, improve leak detection and ensure rate equitability. Metering helps ensure water supplies are kept safe and sustainable for the future.
Metering is a sensible way to manage water supply, which is why many Canadian municipalities are already doing it, including the District of Squamish and many municipalities in the Lower Mainland. Metering gives customers the information they need to ensure they are using water efficiently and as a result reducing water consumption.
Water meter installation has been a requirement for all new construction in Whistler since 1993, and radio frequency (RF) remote reading capabilities have been a requirement since 2007.
In 2019 the RMOW launched a pilot project to implement volumetric billing in Function Junction. Function Junction was chosen for the pilot project since the RMOW recently acquired the VanWest Water Utility that serviced the neighbourhood. The installation process to various ICI properties is ongoing and mock billing is anticipated to be introduced by the end of 2022 or early 2023.
The RMOW is now expanding the program to include other ICI properties in Whistler. Contractor Neptune Technology Group is currently conducting the preliminary meter surveys and will assist with installing new water meters as required. This will help the RMOW understand water usage by ICI customers in Whistler.
If a decision is made to implement, there will be a period of time before the transition is complete, including a period of mock billing. There will also be a report to Council once mock billing has been implemented for a certain period of time to analyze and discuss changes in water use behaviour.
Once the water meters are installed and volumetric utility billing commences, customers would pay for the amount of the water they use collected through the usage fee. This is one of the two water fund fees that the RMOW collects. The other is a parcel tax, which is a fixed fee which is not currently being proposed to be changed. Through volumetric billing customers can control how much they pay for water, by changing the amount of water that they use.
Water metering is just one more way the RMOW is working to help our community use less water. Whistler's total water consumption in 2018 was 5.76 billion litres or 461 litres per person each day, which is beyond the performance target of 425 litres per person each day. Because developing more infrastructure to increase our water supply would be very expensive to build, operate and maintain, the RMOW is working with the community and businesses to find ways to better manage our existing supply and infrastructure. Other recent initiatives include the water conservation stages and the Cross Connection Control Program to prevent backflow contamination.
Site survey details
Neptune Technology Group is in the process of contacting property owners and strata managers for the site surveys in Whistler.
The site surveys will be undertaken to gather information on how individual properties are currently serviced and if a water meter upgrade is required. In most cases there will be no interruption to your water service during the site survey, however in some instances the water service may be required to be shut off for a short period.
All surveyors will be in uniform and have proper photo identification.
Along with the survey process, Neptune may consult with you on specific contact information for the property to ensure all information for your property is captured.
Water meter upgrade details
If the site survey deems that a water meter requires an upgrade, the contractor will arrange a separate time to perform the work. You will receive an appointment letter or phone call after the site surveys have been completed.
The upgrade procedure requires approximately two to four hours to complete depending on the condition and complexity of the plumbing at each property. The water may need to be shut down for the duration of the appointment. There is no charge for the meter or the installation.
Please note: This is a mandatory program in accordance with Water User Fee and Regulation Bylaw 1826, 2007.
Water meters go inside buildings, near the main shut-off valve. Installation is typically clean, quick and easy. There will be no costs to customers for installation, upgrade or replacement of water meters as this is funded by the RMOW.