Curb our thirst

According to the town’s new strategic plan, which was approved by council Monday night, a decision on whether to implement water meters in homes here is to be made by December, 2010.
It’s sure to be a contentious issue, with residents lining up on both sides of the debate, but really the decision is a no-brainer.
The most obvious advantage of a water meter system is that homes pay for what they use. Currently, a senior living alone is charged the same flat rate as a family of five even though he or she surely uses less water on a daily/weekly/monthly basis. What’s fair about that?
Secondly, there’s no incentive to curb water use when you pay a flat rate every two months. Why cut back on watering the lawn and garden, invest in low-flow toilets or shower heads, or do laundry twice a week instead of four times when you end up paying the same amount as your neighbours who do no such thing?
When you’re paying for every drop, you’ll use less of it. And that, in turn, means less water that has to be treated by the town, which ultimately is a cost-savings for all taxpayers.
Across the river in International Falls, which has residential meters, water consumption is about half compared to Fort Frances even though the communities are a similar size.
There are some drawbacks. Ratepayers will have to foot the roughly $275 bill to buy and install the metres, although the town likely will cover the cost up front and then recoup it so much a month until it’s paid off.
Then there’s the situation where home owners have been told by the town to keep a small stream of water running through their taps during the winter months to prevent water lines from freezing. In a letter to Operations and Facilities manager Doug Brown earlier this month, a Third Street East resident expressed concern about having to pay for this extra water if meters are installed.
She, of course, wants to know how the department plans to deal with this matter.
Still, council will be right to implement residential water meters by December, 2010 (which would coincide with the required installation of “smart meters” for every electrical customer in Fort Frances).
Water is a precious resource we’ve taken for granted for far too long. It’s high time we curbed our wanton thirst.