Its all about conservation when it comes to the new water rates that could go into effect in 2009.
City Council spent Monday afternoon listening to a report from Victor Shopland the Director of Infrastructure and Capital Works for the City of Fort St. John on 5 possible new rates for water. Council picked option 5 which will see a minimum charge of $45 per property and $.75 per metre cubed in water, with bills continuing to be sent out each quarter.
That new fee if passed in early in 2009 by council will go into effect as of January 1st, 2009. The City says 53% of residential customers will pay less than the current flat fee of $73 and 48% of commercial customers will also see a drop. As for everyone else, Victor Shopland says it’s time for residents and commercial users to start conserving water.
City staff presented council with a few examples if the new rate goes into effect. A family of four without conservation will see their quarterly bill range from $116 to $228, meanwhile a family of four that conserves water could see their bills range from $51 to $63. Both examples were based on actual Fort St. John residents. The highest bill normally occurs during the summer months when residents use more water.
Several other changes could go into effect January 1st. The new bulk rate at the cities bulk water station will go from $1.50 per metre cubed to $2.50. Residents who have refused to have a meter installed will be charged a flat fee of $150 per quarter. Plus anyone who pays their bill early will receive a 5% discount. By the end of the week the city hopes to only 100 more water meters to install.
This new rate will allow the city to run the water and sewer system at a break even point and allow for future capital improvements. The City says at the current water consumption rate major infrastructure will have to be replaced in 10 years, with conservation the same equipment is expected to last 15 to 20 years longer.
For more read the attached report.
In the past water was included in property taxes. That changed when the City decided to switch to water meters in every residential property (meters have been in place in businesses for several years). With that project wrapped up, the City will now switch to a per usage billing system for water.