Greater Vernon Water meters set to become smart

COLDSTREAM – If you live in the greater Vernon area your water meter may be getting a whole lot smarter. Greater Vernon Water is in the process of installing technology that will turn all of its customers’ water meters into a smart water meters that can be read remotely. The utility says the change will cut costs and make meter readings more accurate but not everyone is in favour of the idea.

Encoder–Receiver-Transmitters will be attached to the outside of homes and will mean meters can be read remotely.

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“[It] will transmit a signal to remote equipment so our meter readers don’t have to go door-to-door to read the meters,” explains Zee Marcolin general manager of Greater Vernon Water.

Marcolin says the new system with be cheaper to run, more accurate and in the long run will also benefit customers when there is a water leak.

“In the future, after about a day, the meter will actually send a signal to us. We will be able to phone that customer and say, ‘Hey, you better check, we think you have a leak,’” says Marcolin.

However, many we talked to on the streets of Vernon had concerns, particularly about the cost. Greater Vernon Water says users won’t be charged directly for the new infrastructure. As for the cost of changing the system, the utility points out keeping the infrastructure the same has its own costs.

“Currently [users] are paying for the meter reading in our budget anyways, so the one cost will just be replaced with another. Once they are installed it will reduce the overall cost,” says Marcolin.

The utility has already started installing the Encoder-Receiver-Transmitters this past summer. As part of the initiative, some utility customers with older meters are also having their entire meter replaced. The entire project is expected to take five to eight years to complete.

If you really don’t want an Encoder-Receiver-Transmitter you can opt out, but that will cost you in the long run. The utility is looking at setting the fee somewhere between $25 and $50 per reading.

Those who want to opt out can fill out a form that is available on the Regional District of North Okanagan’s website.

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