The Town of Oliver’s Town Offices, which the town wants to get designated a heritage site. (Black Press)

The Town of Oliver’s Town Offices, which the town wants to get designated a heritage site. (Black Press)

Oliver council to weigh nixing alerts for water leaks

Staff say the policy has served its purpose in fixing the majority of leaks

Oliver’s council will be weighing whether to keep or eliminate the town policy of informing residents of leaks in their pipes.

Staff have brought forward the proposal to rescind the Water Utility Leak Adjustment Policy due to a lack of use relative to the costs for the policy.

The average monthly cost for the current, proactive system runs about $1,000, for a total of $12,000 in a year.

The policy was put in place in 2016, as part of efforts since water metering was introduced in 2010 to address leaks in the water system across the community. Another part of those efforts includes financial relief for leaks, which was introduced by council in 2012.

The town currently sends out letters to residents informing them of a potential leak after finding abnormal water consumption or evidence of leaks on any property after performing the monthly check on the water meter. That evidence includes finding water running continuously through the water meter for an 8.5 hour long cycle.

Under the policy, for customers who have a leak directly on the fitting connected to the water meter or on a water service line that connects from the meter to the main building on the property are able to ask for an adjustment to their water bills due to the leak.

In 2020 an average of 70 leak notification letters were sent monthly, with up to three notification letters mailed to any individual property owner regarding a leak.

In addition to the financial costs, the staff report to council notes that it takes a technician three hours a month to prepare and send the letters, an additional seven hours in leak investigations and then nine hours a month to go through and read all of the metres.

“The town does not receive any direct benefit for providing this service, it is strictly for the benefit of the end user,” reads the report to council. “This monthly process costs the Town postage, staff time, vehicle costs and overhead.”

The number of leaks has also decreased since the policy was initially introduced, as residents have been able to fix the leaks as they are caught.

Since 2016, there were 22 billing adjustments approved for a total $34,839. Most of those adjustments were approved in 2017, with 11 worth $20,024.

The average amount of water leaked per year was about 10,000 cubic feet, which equates to 0.68 per cent of the 1.48 million cubic feet worth of water that the Town of Oliver billed for in 2020 alone.

With the rescinding of the notification policy, dealing with leaks in the water system would go from a pro-active system to a complaint-based system instead.

An additional recommendation would be for council also approve changing meter reading from monthly to quarterly to align with the quarterly billing by the town.

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