|Everett Public Works spokeswoman Marla Carter holds up a short-pipe backwater valve at a neighborhood meeting last week. The valves are being installed at flood-sensitive homes in northwest Everett. Many of the backwater valves have longer pipes that rise to the ground surface.
Water meters make room for savings
EVERETT - The city’s ongoing installation of water meters across north Everett is progressing well, but the meters will mean a family’s water rate will vary.
The city has installed around 1,800 of its stock of about 12,000 water meters, said Marla Carter, city public works spokeswoman.
The city is installing meters from east to west, so most homes in the Delta and Riverside neighborhoods now have meters.
The city plans to jump across the map to the Northwest Neighborhood this summer to put in meters there early to have houses ready before the Sewer “M” pipe spearation project starts in that neighborhood, Carter said.
The meters change the rates from the city’s flat rate to a metered rate.
The minimum metered rate amount is less than the flat rate, Carter said, meaning smaller families are saving money. Bigger families, though, may be hit with higher bills.
Residents who get meters won’t start paying a metered rate until July, but they’ve been receiving information on their bills comparing what they pay now to what they’d pay under the metered rate.
Many residents have asked to switch to the metered rate early, Carter said.
The flat rate is $174.66 for two months, while the minimum metered rate is $140.84 every two months. The flat rate is determined by what a four person household would typically use, while the minimum meter rate is based on 1,000 cubic feet of water. This is similar to what a two person household would use. After the 1,000 cubic feet minimum, a charge of $3.88 per cubic foot is added.
One of the newly metered houses belongs to Terri Amburgy, a resident of the Delta Neighborhood.
“I took it as a challenge” to see just how little water her family could use, Amburgy said. Her house now has low flow shower heads and her family chose trees that shade in the summer and let water through in the winter so that they don’t have to water their lawn as often.
“I’ve always been pretty water conscious,” Amburgy said, but she still asked herself if she was doing enough.
She has urged her family to use less water when washing their hands and brushing their teeth.
Delta resident Mercedes Reyes said she is worried about the change.
Her family of five sometimes showers at the local YMCA and will continue this to use less water.
Reyes also plans on collecting rainwater to help cut down on outdoor water costs. The city sells rain barrels for $55.
The meters themselves are remotely read, so readers drive around the neighborhoods and take readings periodically. This allows the city to catch leaks or other anomalies that might cost families more on their water bill.
Most people who call in have been asking to switch from the flat rate to the metered rate early. Some have also asked to remain on the flat rate, but that isn’t an option. But once you switch from flat to metered, you can’t go back, Carter said.
State legislators passed a water conservation bill that requires cities to have all households on meters by 2017 and the city will “do its darn best to get there.” Carter said.
All new construction and businesses in North Everett are already metered.
North Everett residents who would want to switch early can call 425-257-8999 or drop by Everett Public Works at 3200 Cedar St.
The city has a separate program called “Let It Rain” focused in the areas of north Everett prone to urban backup flooding that encourages people to buy rain barrels, allow the city to install a backwater valve to prevent sewage backups into houses and other options. One part of the program asks people to redirect their downspouts to have rainwater go into their yards instead of flowing into the sewer system.
The anti-flooding measures are meant to be a temporary fix before the Sewer “M” and Sewer “N” projects happen later this decade.
For more information on these options, go online to www.everettwa.gov/letitrain (opens in new window).