Summerlanders remained on a flat rate system of residential water billing in 2013 as municipal council and staff continued to examine options for metered billing.
For close to two years, council and staff have been working to convert the water billing system to a metered system instead of the flat rate system in place at present.
During this time, numerous billing models have been considered and presented to the public. Changes have been suggested after each model has been presented.
The municipality has also sent mock bills to show property owners how much they would pay under a metered billing system.
The most recent billing model was shown at an open house in November.
Adopting this method would require some time for the council decision and the implementation of the system.
Municipal administrator Tom Day said the municipality plans to introduce the billing system in January of 2015.
Earlier, council and staff had been working for a launch date early in 2014.
By waiting until the start of the year, he said the metered bills would begin when water bills are typically small, not during the summer irrigation system when water consumption is at its highest.
The switch to a metered system has been time-consuming, in part because there are many residential property sizes in Summerland, each with unique watering requirements.
Mayor Janice Perrino has repeatedly stated that the council will take as much time as necessary to develop a fair billing system before introducing it to the public.
“It’s one of the most complicated issues our community has ever had,” she said.
During the conversion to the metering system, municipal staff must find the leaks within the water system.
In addition, a fair method of billing for condominium units must be set up.
There are some questions about whether to have one meter in a multi-family building or one meter for each residential unit.
The billing models which have been proposed begin with a base fee for the water service, followed by billing for all water used. Higher charges are in place for those who consume excessive amounts of water.