The City of Moose Jaw is hoping for full compliance when it begins installing new smart water meters in homes starting this October.
The project will see over 12,000 meters replaced over two years with smart meters that can be read remotely and give more accurate readings. The city has hired Neptune Technology Group Canada to do the installations.
“My own involvement in working with Neptune is that they are a well-positioned company to do this work, and they've seen it all before. They haven't been surprised by any of the questions that we've posted to date,” said Director of Engineering Bevin Harlton.
They will have four installers working weekly, averaging 160 installations per week and 640 installations per month. The installations will come at no extra cost to the homeowner.
Neptune will be sending out letters to residents when they are ready to install meters. Residents can book when their water meter is replaced either online or through a 1-800 phone number. Installers will be working Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Coun. Heather Eby said communication with residents will be key.
“Let's overload them with communication on this so that we don't have to circle back and say, ‘Oh yeah, we really should have done that.’ There's no reason for us not to get the communication right at this stage of the game.” she said.
Neptune estimates that the meter installations only take 30 to 90 minutes to complete.
There will be follow-ups on those who do not book their appointments with reminder letters and door knockers. Neptune will attempt five times to get residents to book their appointments, with the fifth attempt being a “final notice” letter. Those who don’t comply could face having their water shut off. There is currently no timeline on how long a resident will have to comply.
“Really, it's a last resort by the time we would come in and look to turn somebody’s water off. Certainly, we'll do everything we possibly can to work with people and accommodate their needs and requests,” said City Manager Jim Puffalt
City council approved a proposed change to the Sewer and Water Utility Bylaw to state that water can be shut off if “a water meter installed on that property fails to meet the requirements prescribed by the city’s engineer.” The addition was to eliminate arguments that the bylaw does not allow the city to shut off the water if a location hasn’t changed to a smart meter.
All amendments to the Sewer and Water Utility Bylaw to accommodate the new water meters will be coming to city council in July and August for approval.