Microwave - and other forms of electromagnetic - radiation are major (but conveniently disregarded, ignored, and overlooked) factors in many modern unexplained disease states. Insomnia, anxiety, vision problems, swollen lymph, headaches, extreme thirst, night sweats, fatigue, memory and concentration problems, muscle pain, weakened immunity, allergies, heart problems, and intestinal disturbances are all symptoms found in a disease process the Russians described in the 70's as Microwave Sickness.
Thursday, June 26, 2014
$80 water meter fee slammed
$80 water meter fee slammed
City council has approved it, but an $80 fee to read the water meter is excessive, says Councillor James Pasternak.
DAVID COOPER / TORONTO STAR Order this photo
Jessica Annis, who doesn't want the city to install a smart water meter in her home, holds up a no trespassing sign. She wants to continue to report the numbers for her meter readings herself.
By:Paul MoloneyCity Hall Bureau reporter,Published on Thu Jun 26 2014
The City of Toronto will soon start charging $80 to manually read water meters of customers who refuse new wireless meters. Based on three readings a year, that’s an extra $240.
At least 3,341 customers who don’t want the smart meters that automatically transmit readings are being warned by the city they could also be fined up to $50,000 and have their water cut off.
While objectors want to continue sending in their readings, Toronto Water notes the new program as approved by city council is mandatory for all customers.
The city should try to accommodate people rather than slap them with a “draconian” $80 non-compliance fee, said Councillor James Pasternak.
“This is really a far reach for big government to be coming down so hard on homeowners,” he said.
The city’s water department expects to save $5 million annually by getting rid of manual meter readings.
Longtime Toronto resident Shelly Lee said the potential savings could come at a price. “We know that these wireless systems are hackable,” she said.
Critics of wireless water meters in the U.S. have pointed out that transmissions aren’t encrypted, so readings can easily be altered or the signals can even be jammed. There’s also the possibility of customers abusing the system by finding ways to manipulate the wireless meters.
“My current meter works just fine,” Lee said. “I will not let Neptune (the installer) into my home to replace it.”
Toronto Water says out of 242,000 accounts in areas where the program has been completed, holders of 2,368 metered accounts either outright refused access or ignored as many as nine contacts from the city, including a registered letter. They will be subject to the $80 fee every time their meter is read.
In the same completed areas, another 973 customers with no meters who pay a flat rate have refused to move to the new meters and they will be subject to an annual fee of $1,020 for water.
Residents, including Lee, have cited concerns about radio frequencies from the wireless devices, prompting Toronto Public Health to issue a statement that the transmissions — which last for one second a day — are unlikely to pose a health hazard.
But Lee said exposure to additional radio frequencies in a world that’s being inundated by various cellular, radio and other wireless transmissions is just another possible health risk.
She doesn’t understand why residents couldn’t have the option of sending in water readings online or over the phone.
Midtown resident Darlene Allan said she’s been calling in her reading for 20 years and doesn’t understand why the city won’t let her continue.
“It seems like the city is taking something that isn’t broke and trying to fix it,” Allan said, adding she didn’t appreciate the city “threatening” people with potential huge fines and cutting off their water supply.
East-end resident Jessica Annis doesn’t want to hand over access to her property so the city can install a device that could compromise her privacy if the system were hacked.
“They say this isn’t hackable, well everything’s hackable,” Annis said. “I have privacy concerns. I have other concerns. They don’t have authority over my private property.”
In many cases, the reasons for people not co-operating are unknown because the customer simply hasn’t responded to any of the contacts, said Anthony Fabrizi of revenue services.
The new fee, previously approved by council, takes effect July 1. At budget committee recently, Pasternak tried but failed to have the fee delayed to Dec. 31.
Pasternak objects to the fee and the “threatening” warning letter that says allowing access is mandatory under city bylaws and notes that failure to comply is an offence carrying a maximum $50,000 fine, and could result in the water supply being turned off.
“I think in general electronic meter reading is a solid policy but it’s very important when you bring in new measures that you do so with a soft landing,” he said. “I think it’s important to show leniency.”
In a report, the city said the meter reading fee could serve as an incentive for people to accept automated meters, and added that $80 is the city’s actual cost of sending someone out to do a manual read.
Toronto Water general manager Lou Di Gironimo said the program has been successful in that all but 1.3 per cent of customers in completed areas have balked.
“That’s a pretty good success rate,” Di Gironimo said. “The people that have completely ignored us or just said no, council decided we should be able to charge non-compliance fees because there will be extra costs to manage those accounts.”
Unlike Pasternak, Councillor Gord Perks supports the fee.
“The principle should be to recover our costs,” Perks said. “If someone wants a service other people don’t get, they should pay the cost of that special service. Otherwise, they’re asking everyone else to subsidize them.”
In approving wireless meters, city council was told they would help detect leaks by more closely tracking consumption. It noted customers are notified to check for leaks if their daily consumption is three times the average.
The program also targets flat rate customers who have no meter and tend to use more water than the flat rate covers. The $1,020 annual fee covers the city’s estimate of actual water consumption.
Pasternak said he didn’t have a problem with the new flat rate charge because customers should pay for the water they use.