Upcoming Referendum on Universal Metering: Background

An electronic vote will be held the week of January 24th to 31st, 2022 on the topic of Universal Metering for the VPID. Note that all title holders for connected properties in VPID are entitled to vote; for example, if there two title holders for a property, both get to vote. Make sure that our administrator has your up-to-date email address(es) at vpid@shaw.ca. (If you are receiving invoices and newsletter by email, you’re OK.)

Here are some useful things to know as you consider whether you are in support of a proposal to install meters on each VPID subscribed property. We’ll cover A. Water supply and demand, B. Meters, and C. Costs.

A. Water supply and demand information

  • We live in an area with finite capacity to provide potable fresh water. A groundwater study completed a few decades ago suggests our aquifer (the porous layers of ground beneath our properties that hold fresh water) can likely supply roughly 8 million gallons of water per year.
  • We have six wells currently in operation, which for the past few years have supplied roughly 5.8 million gallons of water per year.
  • One of these wells (#19) began operating this summer and appears to be a good producer (~ 3,800 gallons/day, 2nd highest production currently).
  • Our water plant has a storage capacity of approximately 90,000 gallons.
  • Demand for water increases considerably during the summer, especially on holiday weekends, when daily outflows from the plant can exceed 20,000 gallons.
  • Meanwhile, the aquifer receives very little new water in the summer, so the supply of water during late summer can be strained.
  • Because of this, sometimes the storage of water at the plant can fall to levels that make it necessary to replenish the storage with water brought from off-island in trucks. This has happened twice in the past four years: in 2018 5 tanker loads were purchased and provided 19,000 gallons; in 2020 3 tanker loads were purchased and provided 11,400 gallons; in 2019 and 2021 we did not need to purchase water.
  • The number of properties using water in VPID is increasing. We currently have 237 properties with connections and 38 with no connections. 5 additional connections are projected in the next five years.

B. Potential benefits of meters

  • Household meters would allow individual owners to become more aware of their water use rates, which might motivate conservation behavior, especially if a “general average” of “conservation-level” use rates were made public.
  • Research elsewhere suggests that when household meters are installed, water consumption declines. The most rigorous studies suggest reductions of up to 15%, although there is quite a bit of variability among studies and among households within a study area. For example, West Vancouver reported a 15% reduction in annual water consumption after water meters were installed.
  • Household meters could improve VPID’s ability to detect and reduce water loss due to leaks on individual properties. VPID managers believe that the existing meters, located on the main service lines at 4 points throughout the VPID, and 15 shut-off valves distributed throughout the system, are together very useful for effectively isolating leak areas within the VPID system. However, household meters, if monitored regularly, could pinpoint household leaks more efficiently.
  • Regarding leaks, in the past three years the estimated total water loss due to leaks was:
YearVPID systemResidential# residential leaks
20190 US gal.20,350 US gal6
202015,333 US gal.12,150 US gal14
2021223,000 US gal92,000 US gal8
Note: We had 2 sizeable residential leaks in 2021; one that was 39,000 to 42,000 gallons and one that was 30,000 gallons. The location of these leaks made the search for them difficult

C. Prospective costs

  • Installation: For VPID, water meters must be placed in new, larger boxes within a local environment that may range from loose soil to conglomerate. Based on quotes received, we estimate that the average installation cost will be $1000 per household.
  • Hardware: At $150, the least expensive meter that we examined is battery driven and its LCD display must be read on-site by VPID staff. A mid-range option adds a transmitter that makes the meter readable by wand, a simpler and less error-prone process, but raises the price per unit to about $250. The most sophisticated meters communicate to a remote server, eliminating the need for drive-by or walk-by readings, but the price jumps to $400 or more per unit. An additional charge of $20 annually per unit for data storage is offset by eliminating the need for VPID staff to read such meters on-site.
  • To summarize, the total cost of installation and all hardware is between $1200 and $1600 per household. If these costs were spread over a decade, at current interest rates, the basic residential water bill would rise by about $15/month from $75 to $90. This alone will cost $180 per year. Note that this may be an underestimate because it is based on previous vendor quotes, and doesn’t include the labor costs of collecting and analyzing of meter data. Accounting for these factors would increase the cost by an additional $5 or more per month, resulting in a total monthly charge in the order of $95.
  • Note that installing water meters will not reduce VPID’s operating expenses.

You will find also some information on our Frequently Asked Question page, and in the report of the Water Conservation and Metering committee report from January 2021.

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