NOVEMBER 5, 2011

A resident who says she was not informed of an alternative to a wireless water meter wants to ensure other homeowners are aware.

Petrina Gregson, who is opposed to the use of wireless meters due to her uncertainty over health risks, now has one installed at her home.

Gregson was initially told by installation contractor Neptune that the only alternative is to have a wireless meter installed in a pit elsewhere on her property at her expense.

But at a public meeting Thursday night, Coun. Tina Lange said there is a second option – having a water meter wired in. That was news to Gregson.

“I phoned (Neptune) for a booking and they weren’t even aware of it,” she said. “They say they get their orders from the City. She was totally confused.”

Gregson consulted a water-meter brochure from Neptune. There is no mention of wireless meters or about calling the City to enquire about options.

“I can’t find it in the brochure. Apparently, there is if you go to the City website, but a lot of seniors don’t have computers. A lot of people aren’t even aware of wireless meters and a lot aren’t aware they have options to wireless.”

Gregson feels the confusion stems from deceptive practices.

“Again, they’re not allowing people to know the options. They’re hoping they will go with wireless because they make more money. It’s a crime, I think.”

When she enquired about the wire option, she was told, “Do you realize you will be charged $25 a quarter for the rest of your life?”

That charge is supposed to reflect the future cost of meter reading.

Kristen Meersman, the City’s capital projects manager, said the Neptune brochure is generic and not specific to Kamloops.

“Of course we’re not hiding these options,” said Meersman, who noted they are cited on a City web page.

“It doesn’t state this in the brochure. It is on your own initiative.”

So far, about 10-15 homeowners have opted for a wired meter among the first 3,000 installations.

“We want to make sure residents have a choice compared to some other organizations,” she added, referring to B.C. Hydro’s mandatory installation of wireless electrical meters.

The City hadn’t expected wireless meters would be an issue, since more than four million have been installed across North America, Meersman said.