PEI

Charlottetown residents without water meters will see surcharge double

Only around 200 customers in Charlottetown don't have meters yet, and the surcharge for those customers will jump from $50 a quarter up to $100 a quarter starting Oct. 1. 

City hopes people not already on meters will reach out to have them installed

Despite an increase in water rates in 2019, average Charlottetown users are paying the same for water and sewer as they did a decade ago, says the head of the city's utility. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

Residents of Charlottetown without water meters will see their surcharge double starting next month. 

Only around 200 customers in Charlottetown don't have meters yet, and the surcharge for those customers will jump from $50 a quarter up to $100 a quarter starting Oct. 1. 

"With that prompt, what we are billing those customers is reflective of them probably using three times more than the average metered customer," Richard MacEwen, manager of the Charlottetown Water and Sewer Utility, said in an interview with CBC News.  

The city hopes customers not already on meters will reach out to have them installed, given the rising cost of not using them. 

Meter-users 'saw the benefits on their bills'

Charlottetown water use has dropped 13 per cent since the universal metering program started seven years ago, he estimated.

"Despite the fact that the city of Charlottetown is growing, our water consumption within the city is actually decreasing," MacEwen said. "It's nice to see that what we hoped would come true actually came true."

'Right now, if we hadn't introduced universal metering, we'd be looking at starting construction of our next wellfield, and that's a multimillion-dollar exercise,' says Richard MacEwen. (Travis Kingdon/CBC)

The year before meters were introduced, summer water usage restrictions were brought in to reduce consumption for different types of outdoor water use and the timing of such use. 

After the two measures took hold, annual consumption fell from 7.2 million cubic metres in 2008 (that's 7.2 billion litres) to 6.2 million cubic metres in 2019.  

"They saw the benefits on their bills.… Every time you turn the tap on, it relates to how that could impact your bill," said MacEwen. 

Even though the city raised its water rates "quite a bit" just over a year ago, he noted that the average customer is paying about the same amount for water and sewer as they would have 10 years ago, adjusted for inflation.

"Right now, if we hadn't introduced universal metering, we'd be looking at starting construction of our next wellfield, and that's a multimillion-dollar exercise, and it also starts to put stress on the environment in another location," MacEwen said.

More from CBC P.E.I.

With files from Angela Walker

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