Smart me­ters? Not th­ese! Shab­bat fears over wa­ter

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY SI­MON ROCKER

REP­RE­SEN­TA­TIVES OF the Union of Or­tho­dox He­brew Con­gre­ga­tions have met of­fi­cials from a lead­ing wa­ter com­pany to dis­cuss fears that new smart me­ters could lead to a breach of Shab­bat.

An elec­tri­cal ex­pert has been brought in to de­ter­mine whether new me­ters be­ing in­stalled in Lon­don by Thames Wa­ter con­tra­vene Jewish law, fol­low­ing con­cerns raised by mem­bers of the com­mu­nity over the past three months.

Un­til re­cently, me­ters clocked up the amount of wa­ter use through a me­chan­i­cal process which posed no prob­lem for Shab­bat us­age.

But the new dig­i­tal me­ters be­ing fit­ted in Hack­ney and Bar­net op­er­ate on an elec­tric cur­rent, pos­ing the ques­tion of whether a per­son turn­ing on a tap trig­gers elec­tric­ity.

A spokesman for the wa­ter com­pany said a “very con­struc­tive meet­ing” had taken place with the UOHC on

Mon­day.

A dig­i­tal me­ter

“We’re es­tab­lish­ing the facts re­lated to the cur­rent me­ters and more in­ves­ti­ga­tions are tak­ing place in part­ner­ship with the UOHC to un­der­stand whether there is a con­tra­ven­tion,” he said.

“We’ve agreed to pause our in­stal­la­tions at those prop­er­ties where there is a con­cern while th­ese in­ves­ti­ga­tions are car­ried out.”

A spokesman for the UOHC said he be­lieved thou­sands of homes could be af­fected.

If the me­ters are found to be Shab­bat-un­friendly, the UOHC would seek to have them re­placed, though not at an ex­tra cost to Thames Wa­ter, the Union’s spokesman said.

“There is a type of me­ter which is used in Is­rael which does not in­cur the prob­lem of use on Shab­bat,” he said. “Thames Wa­ter said they would take a look.”

As for home-own­ers who have had one of the new dig­i­tal me­ters in­stalled out­side their prop­erty, the UOHC spokesman said, “any­one who has a query should ask their own rabbi. There hasn’t been a blan­ket psak [rul­ing] on what peo­ple should do.”

PHOTO: THAMES WA­TER

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