Water meters could be required for each unit within multifamily residences

By JOE BRITTON

City News Service

The City Council on Monday will consider a proposed ordinance that would require developers to install water meters for each unit in new multifamily and mixed-use residences in San Diego.

According to a report to the City Council, the measure is intended to promote water conservation.

"While the city has enacted measures and programs to reduce water consumption and to maximize the current water supply, most conservation measures focus on reducing landscape irrigation," the report says. "Little attention is paid to reducing water consumption by multifamily residents or to creating a financial incentive for multi-family residents to conserve.'

Individual water submeters aren't now installed, or required, in most multifamily dwellings, such as apartments or condominiums, so residents don't know exactly how much they are using.

The proposed ordinance would require water submeters to be installed in all new multifamily residential buildings with three or more units. Existing multifamily residences with three or more units would also be required to install individual submeters when the entire drinking water supply piping system is being replaced.

The law wouldn't apply to mobile home parks.

According to a report by the Independent Budget Analyst's Office, multifamily residential units comprise about 44 percent of the total housing in San Diego, and the number is growing.

The IBA cited studies that showed a 15 percent to 39 percent water savings in submetered multifamily properties.

Developers, however, are concerned about the added cost of having to install individual water meters in multi-unit projects, particularly in high-rise buildings.

In a letter to Councilwoman Marti Emerald, Elizabeth Nahas Wilson, a project manager for Bridge Housing, warned of a "potentially dramatic impact on future high-rise design and construction costs in San Diego."

According to the city, it costs $150 to $300 per unit in new construction to install water submeters.

   
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