Since implementing metered billing we have seen dramatic increases in our water rates. Residential water users pay more than Industrial, Commercial and Agriculture. We have seen increased use restrictions.
Here are a few facts:
- During the referendum on Stave Lake, we were told we’d run out of water by 2016.
- Three years have gone by since the Stave Lake referendum and there is no plan for increased supply.
- Water shortage was not as great as stated – water use went down after the referendum. It increased marginally last year .
- Agriculture is greatest driver of summer peak demand not residential use.
- Abbotsford spent over $6mil developing Bevan Wells which required an Envrionmental Certificate to operate. However, the wells have not been used enough to monitor their environmental impact to support a new Environmental Certificate so the City has applied for a temporary extension.
- The Bevan Wells Environmental Certificate expires December 31, 2015 because this is the date that the City asked for.
- Councillor John Smith moved to adopt a reduction in residential water rates at open council in June 2013 but then moved to maintain residential water rates at their current levels in November.
- The Community Charter requires that Abbotsford provide a document detailing how the user rate structure is determined. Despite asking for it for 5 years, Abbotsford has not provided me a copy. I can only assume there is no basis for the water user rates we are being charged.
- User rates pay for 30% of the capital costs for expanding the system which is to say that we are paying 30% of the costs for development.
We need a rational plan to move forward. A plan that increases the supply in conjunction with the need.
My Expertise and Position
I have followed the issue since moving here in 1994. As an Agrologist and owning a Bed & Breakfast, caring for my garden has been important. I have experience continued restrictions on watering my garden to the point that I can no longer care for my garden within the restrictions.
I have reviewed all the documents including the Master Water Plan, Stave Lake Plan, Bevan Wells Construction, Bevan Wells Environmental Assessment, Council Reports and Minutes
I understand the issue and can work to getting our water system to work for us. We need to plan for the future needs providing water supply as the need develops. The expansion should be paid for by those who create the increase demand. Residents have paid for the system we now have and should not be paying again.
I believe the rate structure should be equitable to all water users. Just like other utilities, there are two components to the cost or water – the cost of the water system maintenance, upgrades and replacement and the cost of treating and delivering water. It costs the same to treat a litre of water whether it is used by residents, industry, commercial or agriculture and the rate structure should be based on this cost.