Castlegar CAO Chris Barlow and deputy director of finance Lois Hunter stand with a box representing one cubic meter of water. (Betsy Kline/Castlegar News)

Castlegar CAO Chris Barlow and deputy director of finance Lois Hunter stand with a box representing one cubic meter of water. (Betsy Kline/Castlegar News)

City of Castlegar hears from over 200 residents on water and sewer rates

The City of Castlegar has collected feedback on new water and sewer rates from over 200 residents.

The City of Castlegar has collected feedback on new water and sewer rates from over 200 residents.

The city held an open house on Wednesday, Nov. 1 to provide residents with more information regarding a proposed consumption-based rate structure for water and sewer rates. The open house also provided residents with the opportunity to give feedback and, according to a press release from the City of Castlegar, nearly 200 people attended.

“We answered a wide range of questions from all types of water customers, both high and low water users, and received some great feedback for consideration,” Mayor Lawrence Chernoff said in the release. “Thank you to everyone for taking the time to help us create a made-in-Castlegar solution to ensuring an equitable system that will encourage water conservation and extend the lifespan of our water and sewer systems.”

The city also allowed residents to share their feedback via an online feedback form, which closed Sunday.

Chris Barlow, chief administrative officer for Castlegar, said a lot of the residents who attended the open house expressed concerns about the cost of water during the dry months of summer.

“A lot the people that were there were generally people that …, I would say, are probably the higher water users that would potentially see the biggest impact on their bills, especially in the summer months,” he said.

Barlow said they also heard from lower water users who wanted to know that their conservation efforts would result in real savings.

Asked about the City of Castlegar’s response to people who are concerned about their bills going up during the summer, Barlow said, “A large part of the rate structure is to try and lower those peak consumption periods, which is in the summer months. So the rate structure is set up such that those peak months that we can help lower the consumption and incentivize people to lower it during those months.”

To help residents address conservation, Castlegar’s water ambassador also attended the open house and answered questions about conservation. The ambassador also booked appointments for next spring to do assessments at people’s homes.

Further water conservation tips are available at castlegar.ca/pdfs/water_sewer_rates/water_conservation_tips.pdf.

We also asked Barlow to address why sewer consumption is based on a household’s water consumption and it’s because the city does not monitor sewer consumption.

“It’s almost impossible to monitor sewer and then there would be the cost of installing some sort of sewer meter to do that,” he explained.

Barlow said that in the winter months almost 100 per cent of water used in a household is going down the drain, while in the summer more water is being used outside. That’s why the city is implementing a cap of 30 cubic meters from May to September.

“So if you use less than the 30 cubic meter threshold in the summer months, your sewer will only be charged for that, but should you exceed the 30 cubic meters, our analysis showed that anything above that 30 cubic meters is almost always outside use,” said Barlow.

For more information on the City of Castlegar’s proposed consumption-based water and sewer rates, visit castlegar.ca/waterandsewer.