Oak Creek seeking water meters

Town manager: Flat rate inefficient

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— Adhering to a 1995 ordinance, officials in Oak Creek are investigating what it will take to put water meters at every home and business in the South Routt town.

Right now Oak Creek meters 20 to 25 water users while the rest of the town pays a flat rate, Ray Leibensperger, Oak Creek town manager said.

He explained that the flat rate, as opposed to paying by the amount of water used, is not an efficient way to manage and charge for the town's water system.

"You lump everyone together a grandmother living by herself pays as much as a mother and father with nine kids," Leibensperger said.

A flat rate also carries no incentive for people to conserve water and doesn't financially penalize people who waste water.

"We have no incentive for people to fix a leak," Leibensperger said.

Once every house and business has a meter, people will be more aware about the water they use, he said.

"There is no doubt in my mind that it will cut consumption," Leibensperger said.

Along with cutting down on waste, less water consumption puts less stress on the town's water infrastructure, adding to its longevity, he explained.

Overall, the town has estimated it will cost $200,000 to put meters on all houses and businesses. To pay for it, Leibensperger said, he is looking for grants to cover the costs. The town will begin installing meters as soon as there is money to cover the endeavor.

At the very latest, Oak Creek must have the meters in place by September of 2005 or it will be in violation of an ordinance passed by the Oak Creek Board of Trustees in 1995.

Town Trustee Sonja Norris said the change to water meters is an obvious progression for the town.

"I think it's time. We are growing and we have to tap all the revenues we can," Norris said.

The town already requires all new businesses in town be on a meter. Requiring all the homes and businesses in Oak Creek to be metered was the next step, she said.

The Oak Creek Board of Trustees will set the rates for the meters and it won't be known if the price of water will go up for average water users. Norris said when it is time to have that discussion, the board will probably look at surrounding towns' water rates for a guide.

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