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OPINION: Smart water meters are a simple safety system


Let’s return to those halcyon days of the mid-1950s because everything is seen better through the lens of memory. The Town of St. Albert is about to get all its drinking water from the City of Edmonton. That means residents will be billed for the product they use. Someone will be coming into homes, hacksawing water pipes and installing meters. Then every couple of months, a person without identification, will want to come into your home to read the meter and see your dirty laundry. Of course there was an opt-out program. The farmhouses could continue to use their wells; and the landing built in 1929 at the Sturgeon River for people to draw water may still exist.

Fast forward to 2017 where the meters are going high-tech. No longer will strangers with clipboards disturb homeowners to trudge through dirty basements. Water reading will be accurate, up to date, and may even detect leaks in the system.

Now there is a small group that are opposed to new technology. Nothing wrong with that. People can believe anything they want. Up to the point that it affects me, my property, my tax dollar at work and, by extension, City administration’s workload. I can imagine a conversation thus.

“No sir, I don’t like it. The internet done told me that I’m allergic to the internet. I think I have electromagnetic sensitivity. I can’t prove it. No one can prove it, but I has it and I don’t want an electric meter reader. And the City should bend over backwards to oblige me.”

It’s not so much that city administration rejected this pseudoscience. It’s that they wanted to go forward with a more efficient meter reading system for everyone. It should be cost prohibitive in not contributing to the common good of the community by opting-out. In the same way that Herd Immunity or Community Immunity helps a group’s health. Adding to the workload of city staff for no good reason and stressing our tax dollars does not aid our community.

Unusual that council didn’t mention their cause. Just enabled their condition.

This situation requires more bylaws. We must bylaw our way out of this challenge. I don’t want people coming back and saying there weren’t enough bylaws. Even though I wasn’t at the meter replacement committee meeting, I know our staff is inefficient.

“I don’t want a secure device sending information on my water usage to the water company that can be spied on. I want to do that myself by telephone. I don’t want the universe knowing how little water I use. I want the universe to know about my paranoia and psychosomatic illnesses. It’s an electronic transmitter that emits radio waves just like a HAM radio, power lines, or my neighbour's WiFi. Which I totally didn’t leach off. I want the touch pad which works in the same manner. I don’t want a thingy sending radioactive waves out of my basement. And no, I don’t know what Radon is.”

My neighbour’s house is uphill and upstream from me. His water system was compromised once. If it happens again under this new system, it will affect my property. My good neighbour is gone for months at a time. A slow leak will damage my property. A high-quality notification system exists. The World Health Organization states that electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS) claims are dubious. Health Canada states the causes of EHS symptoms are unclear and can’t be attributed to radio frequency radiation. To not make use of a simple safety system will make the city liable.

I put it to EHS suffers, that if you are having physical signs and symptoms from a made-up illness, you are not receiving the treatment you require.

Rod Matthews, St. Albert

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