Water meters inspections to continue
Water meter. QMI Agency file photo
Based on the success of the past year, the City of Welland will continue with its efforts to ensure that all residential water meters are working properly.
City councillors approved giving two temporary staff members permanent jobs at city hall to continue their efforts to inspect all 16,000 residential water meters in Welland — a job that is expected to take up to seven years to complete.
Mayor Frank Campion said the city’s efforts to ensure water meters are working properly is “not a witch hunt.”
“This program is all about ensuring that the water meters are working properly so we’re not under-billing people,” Campion said. “It’s not about looking for tampered meters, it’s about looking for meters that don’t work.”
He said the meter at his business office was recently inspected because it had been registering close to zero water usage.
Although Campion’s meter was working properly, for every meter that isn’t “we’re losing money,” he said.
In the year since the program was initiated, city treasurer Steve Zorbas said, the team inspected 2,421 water meters in homes throughout the city and found 304 water meters that weren’t working. And 207 of those meters “had been jammed,” preventing them from accurately recording the amount of water used in those homes, he added.
But through inspection efforts, the city also collected $37,400 in inspection fees and $45,500 in fees charged for tampering with the devices.
He said stopping the water losses, in addition to the fees for inspections and tampering, will more than offset the $170,000 cost of hiring the additional staff.
Said Ward 2 Coun. David McLeod, “Even though it’s better oversight, this is probably a break even scenario.”
For: Pat Chiocchio, Fokkens, VanVliet, Campion, Larouche, Petrachenko, Carl, McLeod
Against: Letourneau, Grimaldi, John Chiocchio, DiMarco