Multi-Family Water Meter Program
The City of Richmond's water metering program encourages water conservation and provides an equitable way for residents to pay for water use. With single-family residential, industrial, and commercial water use already metered, the City is now gradually implementing mandatory metering of multi-family complexes.
Over 480 multi-family complexes are already metered as of the end of 2021. All remaining unmetered multi-family complexes are scheduled to be metered over the next 15 years, starting in 2022.
The City will contact complexes ahead of their planned meter installation date to begin coordination. The installation costs will be fully covered by the City.
After the water meter is installed, the strata will be billed based on the metered consumption of the entire complex. The City will send a consolidated bill to the strata with all of the items that are currently on each unit's utility bill transferred to the strata. Water and sewer charges will be billed quarterly and the other items (flood protection, yard trimmings, blue box, waste management, large item pick-up) will be billed annually. Water and sewer charges already paid by individual units will be pro-rated and credited to the property tax accounts.
Benefits of Water Metering
- Equitable billing: Water metering allows your complex to only pay for the water that you use. It enables residents to take control of their own water bills.
- Cost savings: In 2019, 98% of metered complexes saved on their water and sewer bills compared to the flat rate. Savings vary based on factors such as the amenities present, the appliances used, the number of occupants and the usage habits of occupants; however, on average, complexes with a water meter saved approximately 46% in water and sewer fees compared to the flat rate.
- Water conservation: Water metering encourages residents to be more conscious about water use and helps identify and fix leaks to reduce unnecessary water loss.
What else does the City offer through this program?
The City offers a number of incentives to help multi-family complexes save water and money with a water meter:
- Five-year guarantee: During the first five years after you install a meter, you will not need to pay more than the flat rate. If your metered bill exceeds the flat rate during this time, you can apply to the City for a credit equal to difference in amount.
- Leak Rebates: If your water usage increases because of a leak, you will be eligible to have your bill adjusted after the leak is fixed.
- FREE Water Saving Devices: All participants in the Multi-Family Water Metering Program are eligible to request low flow adapters for showers, toilets and sinks. These devices can save up to an additional 8% on your water and sewer bills.
- Toilet Rebate Program: Homeowners who install a low-flush toilet through the City's Toilet Rebate Program may receive a $100 rebate credit per toilet replacement, up to a maximum of $200 per unit.
Please see our Frequently Asked Questions for more information.
For inquiries about the program, installing a water meter at your complex, or to request a water-saving device or a leak adjustment, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 604-276-4179.
For inquiries related to your water bill, including when you will be billed, how to pay and what the billing rate is, please contact the City of Richmond's Tax Department at 604-276-4145.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can individual meters be installed for each unit to further improve equity?
No, installation of individual meters for each unit would be cost prohibitive and would require extensive re-plumbing work. In addition, the City does not have access to read or maintain the meters if they are located at each unit. Although installing one meter per complex does not allow individual units to pay for their own water use, it does improve equity compared to the flat rate. We encourage complexes to work together to help conserve water and manage water use.
Does it cost me anything to have a water meter installed?
No, the cost of installation will be fully covered by the City.
What are the next steps to have a water meter installed at my complex?
he City will contact complexes ahead of their planned meter installation date to begin coordination, which may include arranging site visits, scheduling the exact date and time of installation, and providing a water shutdown notice and any other information to be shared with residents.
After the installation is complete, the City will begin billing your complex based on metered consumption.
What if my metered rate exceeds the flat rate?
If the billing under the metered rate exceeds the flat rate in any of the first five years, you are eligible to receive a credit for the difference. This provides an adaption period for your complex to address high consumption after the water meter is installed.
How do water meters help conserve water?
Water meters make people aware about their water use. When people are charged for their actual measured use, they tend not to waste it, thereby reducing their water consumption.
Water meters also help identify leaks, which can constitute a significant portion of a city’s water consumption.
Can I revert back to the flat rate after the meter is installed?
No, you cannot revert back to the flat rate after the meter is installed.
How often will I receive a bill under the metered rate?
Each unit will no longer receive utility bills directly from the City. Bills for water and sewer will be issued to the strata quarterly. Utilities on a flat rate, including flood protection and solid waste and recycling fees, will be issued annually and be included in the first quarter billing. These fees will be included in your strata fees.
How will strata divide the water and sewer bill among the various units in my complex?
The City will only issue one bill for your complex. How your strata charges individual units is up to your strata and the City cannot affect that decision.
Why are metered water and sewer bills sent quarterly instead of yearly?
A quarterly billing system was adopted to help residents improve their ability to detect water leaks as well as to verify operation of the water meter. An annual billing system would reduce the opportunity for leak detection, potentially resulting in residents accumulating substantial consumption and charges due to unattended leaks and water wastage.
What if there is a water leak?
If a water leak is discovered on your strata property and repaired promptly by a certified plumber, the strata can apply for a leak adjustment. Through this program, the strata will be charged for water consumption based on the historical average recorded at the property over the last twelve months.
Where will my water meter be installed?
Each multi-family complex and property is unique. The City will conduct a site assessment to determine the most economical and efficient method and location for installation. Possible locations include mechanical rooms and underground near the property line.
How long will the installation take?
The installation time will vary for each complex. Once design of the meter(s) is complete, the strata will be notified of the estimated installation time. Water shut off will occur when the final connection is made and typically does not last for more than a few hours.
Will our plumbing system or hot water tank be affected by the water meter?
If your plumbing system is in a good state of repair, installing a water meter should not have any adverse effects. Although rare, some homes with very old plumbing will see a leak after the installation of a water meter. In these cases, the leak is likely caused by turning the water supply off and on during the installation process. It is important to note there are other instances where your water is turned off and on again, such as when City maintenance crews flush fire hydrants, or repair or replace a water main. As such, it is a good idea to keep your plumbing in a good state of repair. If you are concerned, you should contact a plumber to conduct an assessment.
Will the meter affect my water pressure?
No, there will be no noticeable difference in water pressure after your meter is installed.
Where can I get more information?