Several good enquiries into the office wanting to better understand the role of water conservation in water rates. Here is a more fulsome response…..
Water saved through conservation has attributed to a small portion of increases to water and wastewater user rates (attributing to 1.5% of total 10% increase). The major drivers for increases in water rates stemmed from the following items:
- Capital cost increases for new infrastructure and infrastructure replacement/renewal;
- Operating increases associated with energy and materials costs;
- Costs associated with ongoing environmental and regulatory compliance of the City’s Water/Wastewater Services; and;
- Costs of new/current staff positions.
In looking short-term, the City’s success in water conservation has worked to reduce operation impacts on the City’s Water and Wastewater System. This has lead to reductions in the amount of electricity and treatment chemicals required to treat excess water volumes, equalling an annual operational savings of approx. $130,000/year to local rate payers.
Furthermore, by pumping less water on a day to day basis water conservation has reduced stresses on the City’s Water and Wastewater infrastructures in producing excess volumes of water. This helps to contribute to extending the life of current public assets and reduces the total amount of infrastructure maintenance and replacement required to service the community on an ongoing basis.
Water capacity reclaimed through water conservation has allowed the City to delay the need for approximately $9.3 million in additional water supply/wastewater treatment infrastructure to date. This ability to avoid such costs through conservation has helped create a significant financial benefit to water and wastewater rate payers as well as contribute to the ongoing sustainability of our water resources.
As a result of such efforts, the City’s water and wastewater rates remains much lower (within the 25th percentile) than that of many comparable Ontario and local municipalities.
With reference to the unavoidable costs associated with ongoing operation of the City’s Water and Wastewater Utilities (as itemized above), many residents have raised the concern of water rates increases being contradictory to their personal conservation efforts. In recognition of this issue, the Water Services Department will be undertaking a review of its water rate structure to evaluate potential revisions to water billing practices such to lessen the impact of planned yearly rate increases to those who have proactive achieved greater water efficiency.