If you are building or acquiring multifamily communities, you’ll need to decide how to handle resident utilities. In most jurisdictions, water meters are required for new construction, but what about existing properties? Retrofitting meters into existing plumbing can be complex and expensive, and the system’s design has to be completed by a water meter expert to ensure it performs to expectations. Sometimes retrofits can be impossible to complete without tearing out walls, and situations like this can be cost-prohibitive.
In cases where retrofitting is too costly or difficult, the ownership should look at a ratio billing system (RUBS.) When carefully designed, a RUBS system is fair to residents and recovers the property’s master bill expenses. RUBS is allowed in most jurisdictions and owners can pass service fees along to residents. A RUBS program can be a no out-of-pocket option for the owners.
Water meters are a valuable asset for your property. A good quality meter has a long life and requires minimal maintenance, but after about ten years meters will start to under-report usage due to mineral deposits. You’ll also need to have someone regularly check batteries and ensure the repeaters, transmitters, and data recorder are working properly.
We often consult on projects where the water recovery is far less than the actual master bill. In some cases, the calculations are wrong. In others, the owner installed water meters during construction or a retrofit and can’t determine why the meter reads don’t match the master utility bill. A discrepancy can occur for several reasons:
- The meters are aged and under-reporting.
- The signal is not strong enough between the meters and the data collector.
- Batteries are weak or dead somewhere in the system.
- A transmitter or repeater has stopped functioning.
Regardless of whether you have a ratio system or meters, charging residents for their water usage results in conserving this most precious resource. It’s good for everyone’s wallet and also for the planet. It’s not uncommon to see water bills drop by 20-25% once utility expenses are recovered.
We can help you craft the right solution for your properties, either with water meters or a ratio utility billing system.