Water meters required for each unit in Boone buildings
by Anna Oakes
In efforts to conserve water and ensure costs are equitably distributed among water users, the Boone Town Council enacted changes to its water and sewer code during meetings last week.
The installation of individual meters for existing buildings will be required if a repair or renovation exceeds 50 percent of the tax value of the existing building. In the case of existing mixed-use buildings, individual metering will be required for either the commercial or residential portion if only one portion meets the 50 percent threshold.
The council is also considering changes requiring any customer with more than one unit sharing a single water meter to pay a minimum monthly fee for each unit in the building.
Under the amended code, the individual meter requirement for existing buildings with major renovations may be waived by a town administrator if it is determined that the costs of installing individual meters significantly outweigh the town's interests.
During the council's July 17 meeting, town attorney Sam Furgiuele presented proposed amendments to the water and sewer code, outlined in Title V of Boone's Code of Ordinances.
Furgiuele emphasized the need to clearly stipulate that each unit in a new or renovated multi-unit building should have an individual water meter installed for billing purposes.
“The water and sewer code has always required that each new customer have their own meter,” said Furgiuele. “These (changes) deal primarily with the attempt to clarify the ‘is' and ‘should be' with regard to meters.”
Some buildings in Boone, including multi-family apartment complexes, have a single water meter installed per building, meaning the landlord or rental agency pays the water bill and tenants do not.
“There's been several multi-family apartment buildings that were allowed to only put in one meter,” said Boone Public Utilities Director Rick Miller. “It doesn't help in conservation. If they're using a lot of water, you don't know how to help them get it down.”
And if a line to one unit breaks, having a single meter per building requires cutting off water service to all units in the building for the repair, Miller added.
The slate of code amendments approved by the council July 17 included a stipulation requiring users with non-conforming multi-unit developments with a single meter to pay the minimum monthly water and sewer fees for each unit that would apply if each unit had its own meter.
However, at the council's July 19 meeting, the council voted to rescind its approval of this particular measure, which could result in significant cost increases for multi-unit buildings with a single meter.
“That's the part Thursday night that we felt they needed to look at a little bit closer before they adopted,” Miller said.
Miller said his department is preparing information about the potential impacts of this measure for presentation to the council in August. At that point, the council may decide to schedule a public hearing prior to making a final decision on the proposal, he said.