After months of debate and amendments, the Memphis City Council finally passed an ordinance that would require individual water meters to be installed at all newly constructed condominiums.
On Tuesday, April 1st, the Memphis Light, Gas, and Water (MLGW) Committee held its third and final reading of an ordinance proposed by Councilman Myron Lowery earlier this year that would require all condos or apartment complexes converted into condos to have individual water meters installed. The committee passed the ordinance, and it was subsequently heard by the full council. It was passed unanimously and will take effect July 1st.
The ordinance that passed is an amended version of Lowery's original proposal, which requested that both all newly constructed condos and apartments have individual meters installed.
"We’re continuing to allow master water meters on apartments, but the minute an apartment complex is late paying their water bill, and I’m talking about one month late, it will automatically trigger action from Code Enforcement, and it will go in court," Lowery said. "And the court has the right to appoint a receiver to collect rent [from tenants], so that the water bill will be paid. The goal is to ensure that everyone can stay in their home."
Lowery was inspired to create the proposal after tenants of Garden Walk Condominiums in Raleigh were forced to evacuate their homes due to the homeowner's association failing to pay the property's $30,000 water bill. If the ordinance doesn't eradicate the potential for similar occurrences in the future, Lowery said he's going to re-propose the ordinance in its original form.
"This was really a compromise," Lowery said. "If this process doesn’t work one time, I’m going back to the drawing board and asking for all newly constructed apartments as well as condominiums...Water is an essential service. Food, water, and shelter are what people need, and government is here to make sure that cities run properly. We’ve got to make sure that people have water."