Metering residential water use cuts consumption by up to 30 per cent across Canada.
On the rainy West Coast, though, it’s not as certain that the money spent installing water meters will be paid back in the value of water saved.
A Maple Ridge report Monday said that four cities in the Vancouver area with metered residential water showed no reduction in water consumption.
“Despite all the increases in metering, the people who did install the meters are doing about the same,” utility engineering manager Joe Dingwall told council.
Water use can be affected by local climate and socio-economic conditions.
Maple Ridge currently meters water use by commercial users and multi-unit residential buildings, but not individual homes.
However, all new homes for several years have been built with meter boxes.
Despite the lack of metering single family homes, water use has been decreasing. Low-flow toilets, lawn sprinkling regulations and efficient appliances have reduced consumption, to the point that overall water use in 2011 is similar to the volume used in 2001, despite a 20-per-cent population growth.
Dingwall crunched the numbers and said Maple Ridge would have to acheive a 30-per-cent reduction in water use in order to pay for the $22-million cost of installation of meters in the remaining 14,000 single family homes.
The 30-per-cent reduction factors in a 10-per-cent decrease in water use as a result of water-efficient appliances.
Dingwall also pointed out a perplexing situation in which decreasing water use in Metro Vancouver could lead to higher water rates to make up revenue shortfalls.
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities says that universal water metering can reduce water use by between 15 and 30 per cent.
Maple Ridge’s 70,000 residents get their water from Metro Vancouver’s Coquitlam Lake Reservoir.
According to the 2011 Environment Canada Municipal Water Use Report, Maple Ridge has the third highest per capita water use in Metro Vancouver, at about 330 litres per capita per day.
Only West Vancouver, at about 440 litres per capita per day, and Delta, at about 360 litres per capita per day, use more water than Maple Ridge residents.
Coun. Mike Morden suggested that Maple Ridge consider installing water meters in homes where people repeatedly violate sprinkler regulations.
Dingwall said West Vancouver recently metered most of its homes, resulting in a 25-per-cent reduction in water use.
The City of North Vancouver and Coquitlam have the lowest water use, with the latter using just more than 200 litres per capita per day. The City of North Vancouver used just under 200 litres per capita per day.
The average consumption in Metro Vancouver is 365 litres.