Summerlanders examine information and raise their concerns about the proposed water metering model during an open house on Thursday.

Water metering postponed

It will be another year before Summerlanders pay metered rates for water.

It will be another year before Summerlanders pay metered rates for water.

Municipal administrator Tom Day said an open house on Thursday evening was set up to get final comments about the billing system changes.

For the better part of two years, Summerland council and municipal staff have been working to set up a metering system for residential water use instead of the flat rate in place at present.

Numerous models have been considered and presented to the public, with changes suggested in each instance.

In addition to the billing models, the municipality has sent out mock bills to show property owners how much they would pay under the various models.

Now that the comments have been received from the latest open house on billing, Day said municipal staff can work on a report to present to council in December.

If the billing structure is approved, it will take some time to implement the metered system.

“We have to change our entire billing system” Day said.

Rather than introduce the metered billing in late spring or early summer, Day said the municipality plans to wait until January of 2015.

By starting at the beginning of the year, the billing would be in place outside of the irrigation season, when water bills are small.

The switch from a flat rate to a metered system has been a long process.

Day said the change is more difficult than it first appears.

“It’s a complex problem. You can’t get a simple solution,” he said.

The complexity comes because residential properties have varying lot sizes and varying water demands.

Agricultural properties are not affected by the billing changes.

Mayor Janice Perrino said council members want to have the system working before introducing the meters.

“The one thing we’ve said is we’ve got to do it right,” she said.

At present, Perrino said there are several problems which must be addressed.

One of these is finding leaks within the water system.

Another is determining how to set up the meters for condominium units. There are questions about whether to have one meter in a multi-family building or one meter for each residential unit.

Some residents who have already received the meters have complained that they are not functioning properly.

“It’s one of the most complicated issues our community has ever had,” Perrino said of the metering.