At a public hearing last week, the possible installation of water meters drew a large crowd of concerned citizens.
Bovey Mayor Mike Bibich opened the public hearing and set the tone for later discussion.
“The city used 36 million gallons of water last year,” said Bibich. “And, out of that 36 million gallons we have only one meter in town.”
Bibich has recently called for discussion for the city-wide installation of water meters to implement fairness and cost control the city’s water usage.
The case for installation was laid out by Mike Roers, with the Rural Water Association, which provides technical assistance to small population communities throughout the state.
“I’m here to explain to you the need for meters. Meters would reduce that (consumption) by 30 to 50 percent right off the bat,” he said.
Roers noted that Bovey currently spends $73,000 on water. “With meters you have accountability – grandma’s not going to be paying as much as a family of four,” he said.
Bibich told those in attendance that early estimates indicate it would cost about $160,000 to have meters installed. The cost per household, however, would be relatively low if spread out over an eight to ten year period, he said.
Several dozen local residents came to the hearing to voice opinions on the issue. Residents, in a lengthy and sometimes contentious discussion, wanted to know the cost of installation per household and what water bills might look like after installation. Many spoke in opposition to meters – for a variety of reasons including cost concerns.
City officials reported that they were not yet sure of the final costs of a water bill once the meters were installed – that assessment would likely come after any system was put into place.
The public hearing ended after more than one hour and 30 minutes of discussion. No council action was taken on the matter. Bibich said in a telephone interview that the matter would be further discussed at the next public utilities meeting.