Mission residents currently use far more water per person than neighbouring Abbotsford.

Mission residents currently use far more water per person than neighbouring Abbotsford.

Staff asked to write voluntary water meter report for council

Mission councillors discussed water meters at special meeting

Every home in Mission will have a water meter sooner or later, but how and when the municipality gets there is up for debate.

Mission council discussed the topic for 90 minutes Monday afternoon at a special committee of the whole meeting where Coun. Jeff Jewell tried to convince his colleagues the meters are an essential part of water conservation.

Although Mission councillors ran under the Citizens for Responsible Municipal Government which opposed water meters, Jewell said the knowledge gained since the election has proven the idea has merit.

He explained a universal program has more worth, and increased public controversy, but a voluntary program may work. He also pointed out Mission’s Wise Water Management program requires water meters as a user-pay system would help reduce consumption and save residents money. Jewell expects 65 to 75 per cent of taxpayers would save money on a metered system.

Some councillors didn’t support the universal water meter option, but couldn’t find a reason not to start with a voluntary program. Staff will research options and bring a report to council with recommendations and suggestions on education, incentives, pricing structure, outside funding availability and implementation dates.

Water meters are probably the highest priority capital project on the table, but previous councils have refused to address it, said Coun. Jenny Stevens, who has been a councillor since 2001.

According to a previous staff report last year, a voluntary water meter program would result in about 18 per cent conservation and would meet Mission’s water needs until 2034, however, a universal program would conserve about 37 per cent and Mission would not need a new water source until 2041.

Mission averaged 466 litres of water per person per day, while Abbotsford, which has implemented universal water meters, only recorded 293 litres in 2011.