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New ICI meters to deliver ‘rate shock’

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Many local ICI customers can expect to see their water bills rise because newly-installed water meters will mean more accurate water usage readings.

Operations and Facilities manager Doug Brown told council Monday night the instalment of new waters meters for industrial, commercial, and institutional (ICI) customers in Fort Frances is almost complete, with only 24 more to go.

Brown said Metercor Inc., the subcontractor working for Elster Metering, will be in town Feb. 13-17 and those ICI customers who have not made an appointment to get a new meter must do so as soon as possible.

Those ICI customers should call Metercor Inc. at 1-855-745-8500.

Brown explained that last year, the town made the decision to replace a total of 173 ICI meters, 65 of which were installed as far back as 1971.

The new meters will be more accurate, but this is expected to mean as increase in some ICI customers’ bills as they start paying for the actual amount of water they’re consuming.

“With the older meters, they’re mechanically driven,” Brown noted. “They slow down with time.

“In other words, the new meter will be more accurate but it will be a ‘rate shock’ to the customers,” he warned.

“They’re going to be paying more for water because what the meter’s actually doing is more accurate.

“Don’t be surprised that your water bill goes up because the meter’s going to be more accurate,” Brown reiterated.

Along with the new meters, backflow preventers have been installed at local ICI customers.

“We’ve actually made the system safer because anything is not allowed back in the system once it passes through the backflow preventer,” Brown said.

Citing the West End Motors’ garage as an example, Brown said the business deals with oil, transmission fluid, and the like all the time and when the workspace is washed, there was a chance those materials get back into the water system.

The backflow preventer prevents any contaminant from doing that now.

“It is of benefit for the community because we lessen the chance of cross-contamination with the water system,” stressed Brown, noting a few years ago at a Stratford, Ont. car wash, detergent backed up into the water system and “people were drinking pink water.”

Individual ICI customers are being billed for the new water meters.

But in the future, Brown said the town will be looking at charging ICI water customers with an additional monthly water meter maintenance and replacement fee so they never will have to directly bill customers for the replacement cost of meters.

The new water meters will be on a 15-year replacement cycle.

Along with the new water meters, a total of 299 Energy Axis water 2.0 modules on ICI water meters, which will enable automatic meter reading for all 299 local ICI customers, are being installed.

This is allowing the town to piggy-back on the existing “smart meter” reading system put in place by the Fort Frances Power Corp.

Also at Monday night’s meeting, council approved a report to make changes in council meeting dates in 2012.

The Oct. 8 meeting will be moved to Oct. 9 due to Thanksgiving while the Nov. 12 meeting will be shifted to Nov. 13 for Remembrance Day.

As well, the Dec. 24 meeting has been rescheduled to Dec. 17 due to Christmas.

Council also received a report recommending the town apply to the Rainy River Future Development Corp.’s Local Initiatives Fund, which may provide up to $10,000 to further the town’s goals related to becoming a mining support centre.

The funds would be used to meet with mining service companies, send additional mail-outs, and purchase ads.

These funds must be used by March 31, 2012.

Also Monday, council approved a report ensuring the renewal of lease agreements at the Fort Frances Airport with Enterprise Rent-A-Car for counter space and parking lot services, North Air Services for counter space and parking lot services, and Bearskin Lake Air Service LP for space within the terminal building.

The mayor and clerk were authorized to execute lease agreements on behalf of the corporation.

Finally, council agreed to make a proclamation supporting the importance of online organ and tissue registry awareness, the “Step By Step” program, and the “Torch of Life Relay” to raise awareness of organ and tissue donations.

The proclamation also supports organ and tissue donations through registration at www.beadonor.ca, as well as stem cell and bone marrow donations through www.onematch.ca

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