Lawn Sprinkler Water Meter
The City has looked into the issue of second meters which, on the surface, sounds like a good idea. But, there are a number of problems with this concept. The first is the cost of requiring the homeowner to pay a plumber to separate the water pipes inside the home and run new lines to all outside spigots and to any sprinkler system. In 2004, this cost was estimated at $875 assuming an unfinished basement ceiling. This doesn't include the plumbing permit and cost of an additional meter.
The second issue concerns fairness. Residents who live in combined storm/sanitary sewer areas wouldn't be eligible for a second meter. This is because in combined areas, there is only one pipe that takes away both sanitary and street drain water. Obviously, in this case, it doesn't matter if you water the lawn or flush a toilet, some water gets to the sewer and the City has to pay for treatment of that effluent. (And even in separated sewer areas, some lawn watering infiltrates into sanitary manholes and the City has to pay for that effluent and for storm water effluent as well.)
Those residents who have separated pipes, water their lawn a great deal, and have the money to pay for the separation of their plumbing would be the sole beneficiaries from a second meter. In addition, many of our businesses have invested in sprinkler systems that homeowners can't afford. Changing the City's billing methodology would also shift a disproportionate burden toward homeowners.
Not a for-Profit Enterprise
The third area of concern is the fact that because our Water and Sewer Fund is not a for-profit enterprise, meaning that the City attempts to charge residents what it costs to buy water, pay for sewer discharge, and maintain both systems efficiently and in accordance with Federal and State guidelines, reducing a few residents' costs with a second meter would require the City to raise the cost to all other residents to make up the lost revenue. Again, this cost shift to other customers raises a serious equity and fairness issue.
Finally, adding a second meter, which would only benefit a few, if any, residents, would increase the maintenance cost on meters, as there would be more meters to maintain. Also, the cost for water billing would increase as there would be more water bills to create, mail, and process.
Second Water Meter Not in the Best Interest
For these reasons, the City has decided that allowing a second water meter would not be in the best interest of the City of Madison Heights, its water customers, or the water distribution system overall.