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Water metering and the 'Window of Opportunity.' (program of New York Bureau of Water and Energy Conservation) (Property Management Supplement)

Lately, there has been a great deal of confusion about precisely what the Bureau of Water & Energy Conservation (formerly the Water Register) is offering through their "Window of Opportunity" program. What follows are some facts that should help set the record straight.

For starters, there are no reimbursements. What this program is offering to owners is an "opportunity" to install their own water meters before the New York City's intallation team does it for them. If an owner decides to take this option, he (or she) will then receive rebates on water bills to compensate for the cost of the meter and its installation. He will not receive compensation for any preparatory piping or other plumbing work that may be needed, however. For these ancillary or supplementary items, the owner must bear the entire cost himself.

Secondly, time is limited. The "Window of Opportunity" program expires at the end of 1991. If, by then, an owner has not installed his own meter, the city will do so for him -- on their own schedule, at their own expense. The city will not, however, perform any ancillary plumbing work, nor will they offer any financial compensation foe such items. All facts considered, it is no wonder that we at Wexler are so frequently asked the following question: Is it really in my building's best interest to install early? To answer this question, an owner must consider his savings potential.

If your building already has aerators, new shower heads, low water toilet devices, and a low people per apartment ratio, then you will probably save money through water metering.

If, on the other hand, your building is not water efficient. For example, if it has excessive leaks, many people in each apartment, and/or an antiquated plumbing equipment, then you may be paying less on the old "Frontage" system of billing. In such a case, installing a water meter may cause a significant increase in your water bills, since all usage and waste will now be accounted for.

The next question people usually ask us at Wexler is whether there is any way to avoid water metering. No. water metering is inevitable, and there are no exceptions. And, contrary to rumors that have recently been circulating throughout the real estate community, there are no minimum of maximum requirements for water metering. All buildings must eventually meter their water consumption.

It is, in fact, this inevitably is that many owners have chosen to take advantage of the Window of Opportunity program and install water meters on their own, rather than waiting for the city. Understanding that much of plumbing work necessary for their buildings to effectively water meter will be supplementary and will not be paid for by the City, many owners have contracted with one plumber for the entire job. By doing so, they hope to get an overall lower bulk rate. And, with less being charged for each specific portion of the job, they will be charged less for the ancillary work. Moreover, since they will eventually work. Moreover, since they will eventually be rebated for the actual meter and installation, no money is lost in that area either.

As for the kind of meter you will need, much depends on the size and water use patterns of your buildings. And so does the size and cost of the meter. The Bureau of Water Energy and Conservation is will conduct a thorough examination your property and then prescribe the specific type and size of meter to be installed.

If you have any question about the Window of Opportunity Program or water metering in general, call the Bureau of Water Energy and Conservation at (718) 595-6654.
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Author:Wexler, Robert
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Oct 2, 1991
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