Years of support for reducing EMF’s in Sebastopol evaporated on Oct 19 when the city council unanimously voted to mandate smart water meters.  This will cost water customers 4% annual water rate increases over 15 years and add another layer of EMF radiation in our community.  This is especially shocking because Sebastopol banned PG&E smart meters in 2013 and their General Plan calls for reducing EMF’s.

In February of 2021 the Public Works director said they were testing new water meters but that they would be manually read. A few months later they launched a survey asking if the community wanted “cellular” water meters. There were 329 responses to their water meter survey. 54.7% of respondents approve, 31% opposed, and 14.3% are undecided. The survey is an unreliable source of community input, because people were not given any details about the cost or how the meters work. Anyone could have taken the survey including the company who stands to profit and people who don’t live in town. 

It gets worse! Sebastopol is using similar propaganda as PG&E used to promote smart meters, for example: existing meters are inaccurate; smart meters only transmit 4X a day; smart meters are green/necessary to reduce climate change; and smart meters save energy.

Facts about Sebastopol’s Badger Orion smart water meters

  • Smart water meters are two way radios that collect granular data about customers water use.
  • Smart water meters use sound waves, batteries and transmit EMF radiation.
  • There’s no reliable technical data about how smart water meters work, how many watts and antennae gain, how often they transmit, and what frequencies they use. Santa Fe is using Badger meters and they say their system will use 4G and 5G frequencies.
  • Smart water meters have non-replaceable batteries. The entire unit will need to be replaced if/when the battery fails.
  • Despite the claim we need smart water meters to reduce climate change, there are no reductions in GhG expected from water meters.
  • Smart water meters can be used for rationing and for fining customers.
  • The city is borrowing over 5 million dollars to pay for improvements to city infrastructure, a well pump, a new roof for the library, swimming pool upgrades, and other projects. Included in that cost is over 2 million dollars for smart water meters.
  • In order to pay back the money the city will raise water rates by 4% a year for 15 years. At the end of that time the city will have made $2 million dollars more. See Sebastopol city council video to see their financial plan starting at 2:42:00

For the past fourteen years the Sebastopol City Councils have been given many independent peer reviewed studies on the risks and harm from EMF radiation smart technologies to people and nature. The city has taken action by writing letters to officials, banning PG&E smart meters, defending senior residents at the mobile home park from PG&E smart meters, and getting lower kelvin LED streetlights. Sebastopol’s General Plan calls for minimizing EMF’s, including:

  • Minimize unsafe EMF radiation levels near sensitive areas such as schools, hospitals, playgrounds, high density residential, and libraries when planning for electrical transmission facilities repair and new construction.
  • Promote community education and awareness on EMF health information and stay abreast of current research and regulations.
  • Explore programs and legal remedies available to the City in order to reduce unsafe EMF exposure to the greatest extent allowed by State and federal law.
  • Advocate that all new major electrical transmission projects and telecommunications facilities evaluate EMF as part of the project’s environmental review pursuant to CEQA.
  • Request from PG&E and wireless telecommunications facilities providers, public disclosure of existing and proposed electrical transmission and wireless telecommunications facilities projects in the vicinity of Sebastopol and their anticipated EMF levels in the Sebastopol Planning Area.
  • Maintain data regarding the location, size, strength, and EMF levels of major cell and radio towers, public power facilities, including transmission and distribution lines, and other substantial public or community EMF sources in the Sebastopol Planning Area, to the extent that data and information is available.
  • Support efforts to approach and encourage the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to allow the City to opt out of public utility wireless data transmission systems (such as smart meters).

This project was approved but it will come back to the council for financing approval at a later date.  The city council can be reached for comment at [email protected]