Metro Vancouver is researching the possibility of installing water meters for all homes in the region.
The two-year study will examine the environmental benefits as well as the economic costs.
"Basically water metering is a way to charge people for how much water they use and that does help people reduce how much they consume," says North Vancouver Mayor Darrell Mussatto, who is also the chair of Metro Vancouver's utilities committee.
Mussatto estimates it would cost between $400 to $1,000 per home to install the meters, and about $50 a year for reading and billing.
"It would cut down the use for sure, but you'd still have to raise X amount of dollars to pay for the system," he said.
The committee will have to decide if the environmental benefits would be worth the extra cost.
Mussatto says the study is also looking at other alternatives — including hiring additional bylaw officers to enforce water restrictions during dry summer months.
Homes in West Vancouver and White Rock already have water meters, as do all newly-built single and two-family homes in Vancouver.
The region is considering the move to water meters following one of the hottest and driest summers on record.
Stage 3 water restrictions were implemented in Metro Vancouver last summer for the first time since 2003.
This year, the region will be restricting water use two weeks earlier than usual in order to ensure there is enough water left at the end of summer.
From May 15 to Oct. 15, residents will only be able to water their lawn three times a week.
With files from Deborah Goble