Warman water meters accurate, says city manager

Warman City Manager Bob Smith with one of the Neptune water meters

How accurate are the water meters in Warman?
Very accurate, according to City Manager Bob Smith.
But, if any resident wants their meter checked out, they’re welcome to contact the city administration. For a $100 fee, which covers the cost of testing by an independent firm in Saskatoon, the meter will be thoroughly analyzed.
If the meter is found to be faulty, the city will refund the $100 testing fee.
Over the last six years since the program was offered by the city, an average of ten complaints per year are received at city hall from homeowners who think their meter is registering higher water consumption than it should.
Of those ten complaints, only an average of one homeowner per year feels strongly enough about the issue to pony up the $100 fee to send their water meter in to Saskatoon for testing.
So far, none of the meters has been found to be defective.
That doesn’t surprise Smith, who was City Manager in Weyburn for many years before taking over the administrative helm at Warman City Hall.
“In my career, I have never seen a water meter test over,” said Smith in an interview on Thursday, April 12. “There have been reports that I’ve seen of some older meters measuring a very small percentage on the low side. But they’re very rare.
“The meters we use are 99.999 per cent accurate,” he added. “It’s in the interests of both the residents and the city to have accurate measurements of actual consumption.”
The city has installed Neptune water meters in residences and businesses throughout the city. The readings are done on a monthly basis by city workers through radio frequency signals.
The Neptune brand of meter installed throughout Warman is very reliable, said Smith.
“The brand is well-known across Canada,” he said. “They’re a large manufacturer.”
The water meters are supplied by Flocor in Saskatoon.
Smith said there is a misconception, perpetuated in social media, that the city’s meters are inaccurate.
“The only way to counter that perception is to put the facts out there,” said Smith.
He noted the city is actively promoting water conservation by providing tips to residents through monthly water bills and online at the city’s website.
“The real concern that people have, which is legitimate, is that their water is expensive,” said Smith. “That’s true. But the way to reduce your cost is to reduce water consumption where you can.”
Smith said the City of Warman is currently in discussions with its supplier to determine the actual cost of water, and come up with a fair price.
“We haven’t got there yet, but the supplier is working to break out those numbers so we have a better idea of the real cost,” said Smith.
He noted that Warman, like other municipalities in the region, purchases water from SaskWater, a provincial crown utility. SaskWater, in turn, purchases potable water from the City of Saskatoon. The water is sourced from the South Saskatchewan River, treated by the City of Saskatoon and distributed by SaskWater via underground pipelines.
SaskWater has increased the price of water to its customers substantially several times over the past few years. The most recent is a 9.25% hike effective May 1 of this year. The City of Warman has added a 2% increase on top of that to cover the cost of water and sewer infrastructure in the city.
“There are a lot of costs associated with infrastructure,” said Smith. “For example, it costs $7,000 just to have our backup generators inspected annually so that people will have water even if the power goes out. That’s one of the costs of doing business.”
Smith said about 44% of the price of water in Warman covers the cost of purchasing the water from Saskatoon. Roughly 20% of the price covers the cost of bringing the water from Saskatoon to Warman via pipeline. About 36% of the price covers the city of Warman’s cost of distributing the water from the municipal reservoir to residents and businesses.