We all have problems and I am so grateful to the people who post because I have learned a lot from you all. I thought I would write a "good news" post.
I live in Massachusetts in a 55 unit condominium - 5 floors plus basement. We are not a residence strictly for seniors so we have a lot of age diversity and some units are occupied by only one person; others have 4/5 people especially if there are children. In 2015 our water bill doubled. It went up by $30,000. Water is, of course, a shared expense. We had a meeting in 2016. It was suggested that we get low-flow toilets. I said I was all in favor of low-flow toilets but that they would not address the root of the problem. Unless we could get individual water meters we would have no incentive to conserve. (Our architecture supported this possibility as water was brought into each unit by a single pipe.) All kinds of objections were made: the city wouldn't allow it, the Water and Sewer company would not allow it. I went to both of these authorities and was thrilled to find out that not only would they allow it, but the water and sewer company thought it was absolutely a great idea. I went home and began to research. I found that there was a company which had attended the White House Water Summit in March of 2016. I figured they would be a good starting point for my research since, at least in those day, they would have been vetted. I wrote and they were extremely helpful. They even sent me a big box with 4 activated RFID meters, 2 different reading systems and 2 different antennas plus allowed me to download their software. This allowed me to do some testing to see if this would work for us. Long story short, it DID! We did an assessment to cover the cost of the meters plus the installation - that came to about $450 for me. One of the trustees does the readings once a quarter and then uploads the data to the Management company which handles the billing. He just walks down the 3rd floor hall and sweeps up all the data - a 5 minute task. Our first reading resulted in our finding leaks which we did not know about. Owners then had to get them fixed. Meters alarm for leaks, bursts, floods, and tampering. Our water bill has gone down by $30,000 and we pay only for the water we use. Our condo fee has gone down by $50 a month. After a year we had recouped the cost of the installation assessment. I should add that during the time that our usage skyrocketed we were frequently unable to pay the full bill and had to pay thousands in interest. It is so wonderful to have that behind us.
The meters will last between 16 and 20 years but need to be replaced only when they fail. They deteriorate only within the last 4 hours of their lives. Would that we could say the same :-)
Truly if anyone out there lives in a condo where there is a single water pipe that brings the water into each apartment, I would strongly advise you to make a similar change. I live alone and 90% of what had been my share of the common water expenses was going to subsidize the usage of everyone else. Now, if I go away on vacation my water usage halts in my absence. We each pay for what we use and have an incentive to conserve. We cannot waste resources.
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