COLUMN: Not a well-thought-out proposition

There’s a rumour going around ... by a councillor, that the City of Abbotsford is considering placing water meters on private wells.

There’s a rumour going around, abetted I’m told, by a councillor, that the City of Abbotsford is considering placing water meters on private wells.

If that is true, bring it on, I say. To charge for something, you must guarantee supply and that will thrill everyone on Sumas Mountain who has had dry wells for last month or so, and with the continuing dry weather, can expect that condition to remain until at least the arrival of November rains.

So rather than suffer through the inability to flush toilets, have showers or wash the dishes, those with dry wells will, under city operation, get new and deeper wells, or have the city pay for weekly visits of the water truck.

On top of that, none of us will ever have to worry about the pumps freezing in a cold winter ever again

The city would be required to build us new heated pump houses and, of course, pay for the electricity to keep the pumps and heaters going.

And, when the power goes out during a winter storm, which is not an infrequent occurrence up here on the mountain, crews will be johnny-on-the-spot to install propane heaters to keep all from freezing up while physically hauling buckets of water to the houses when the electric pumps are out of commission.

I’m sure the union also supports this move, because it will mean many more workers will be needed to accomplish all this, along with a large contingent to actually read the water meters once they are installed.

They’ll also need office staff to arrange for meter reading appointments since the wells are on private land, and those of us who have guard dogs will need to have them contained for safety reasons during those visits.

If you are wondering if any of the above makes sense, it doesn’t.

For starters, the city does not own the water we draw into our wells. It actually belongs to the Crown.

Everyone’s wells are located on private property. There are laws, I believe, against trespass.

Finally, just the costs of reading the individual meters would more than offset any “revenue stream” the city might think it will generate to assist its desperate need for more cash flow, let alone anything else they would be required to provide by this imposition.

People who rely on wells first have to drill them, at a cost of anywhere from $5,000 to $25,000+, then they have to build a pump house, install electric pumps, put in heaters and purchase pressure tanks.

These costs have to be paid upfront, unlike those on a city water system whereby everybody contributes a small amount each year through their municipal taxes.

I’d also suggest that, no matter how much one contributes to a city system, even paying water meter rates is significantly less than what it costs to create and operate a personal-use well.

I’d also suggest that if the city brought a water system to us, most would consign their wells to history for the convenience of never having to worry again about supply.

So, if the rumour has foundation and you want to charge for water, then bring it to us.

Otherwise leave well enough alone, because harbouring any ill-conceived notions about the financial benefits of charging metering fees on private water systems is impractical nonsense.

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