Castlegar city council has passed three readings of a bylaw to set water and sewer rates for 2019.
If passed at council’s next meeting Dec. 17, the bylaw will see rates for single-family dwellings remain the same, while rates for multi-family residential, commercial and industrial users will increase.
One year into the switch to metered water and sewer billing in the city, Castlegar CAO Chris Barlow says that the program has been going well and that overall the rates the city set for the first year have been keeping up with the costs of operating the water system.
The city’s water and sewer system must be self-sufficient, so the city must bill for the amount it takes to support operations and maintenance.
The water and sewer rate structure consists of two components — a flat rate to maintain infrastructure and a consumption rate to cover delivery and usage.
When the city introduced consumption rates last year, a three-year rate structure plan was introduced to give customers time to adapt to the new system. One of those adaptations is the increase in rates for multi-family residences and industrial/commercial users as those classes were deemed to be under-contributing their share of the cost under the old structure.
Multi-family users will see their flat rates for water increase from $192 to $228 annually and their flat rate for sewer increase from $144 to $168.
Industrial and commercial users will see their flat rates for water increase from $252 to $288 annually, and their flat rate for sewer increase from $288 to $366.
One change that will affect a small number of single-family dwellings is the removal of the 100-cubic-metre cap on water usage charges. The cap was introduced to help large-volume users adjust to the new consumption charges. But staff recommended removing that cap now so low-volume water users won’t be subsidizing those who use more.
There is no consumption charge for the first 30 cubic metres of water used per month, but after that, the charge is 68 cents per cubic metre.
Sewer consumption rates are 38 cents per cubic metre, capped at 30 cubic metres from May to September to account for the increase in summer water usage that takes place outdoors and does not enter the sewer system.
Flat rates will remain the same at $360 for water and $288 for sewer for a total of $648 per household per year. In 2017, prior to the new rate structure, residents were paying a combined flat rate of $760.
What is one cubic metre of water?
One cubic meter of water is the equivalent of:
– running a hose for two hours
– running 10 baths
– 10 washing machine loads
– 100 toilet flushes
– 30 showers
– 4,000 cups of tea