More water, lower rates?


I know it is easy to come to this conclusion but it is not how it works.

The cost of programs to conserve water is about a third of the cost of building new infrastructure to increase supply (e.g. wells, pipes, valves, pumps, reservoirs).  If we used more water, our water rates would escalate much more rapidly – both to build the infrastructure and then to pay for its maintenance and replacement (see last post).

Take advantage of opportunities to conserve water.  Click here.

About Karen Farbridge

An unwavering change maker seeking a just, democratic and sustainable world.

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15 Comments on “More water, lower rates?”

  1. Ryan Says:

    Fair enough, but how come our rates went up? I know first hand it’s due to our lack of water consumption that our rates went up. We used less, so they make up for it by increasing rates. This is fair? The wool can only be pulled over our eyes for so long.

  2. Don Says:

    Compared to the taxpayers water rate of $1179 per million litres, NESTLE is getting a great deal at $3.70 per million litres (as per yesterdays paper).
    NESTLE makes profits on our water supply and they are seekig a new 10 year permit- no wonder, the water’s a steal.

  3. Alexandra Barlow Says:

    Well said Don. They post million dollar profits and we see our monthly costs increase.

  4. kfarbridge Says:

    Just to ensure there is no misunderstanding, Nestle is not within the City of Guelph’s boundary and their permit to take water is granted by the Province of Ontario.

  5. Jim Grant Says:

    Karen – Understand your last comment regarding Nestle, but I fail to understand what that means to us?
    Is it that, if the city was granted permission by the province, we would pay the same or the City should move out of the City of Guelph’s boundaries?
    How is your statement relevant to the question of justification of water rate increase. Equipment mentioned, I don’t believe, amounts to the increased revenue garnered from this rate increase.

  6. Don Bens Says:

    Ms. Farbridge, could you enlighten us on who specifically set the water rate for Nestle, and who they pay the money to ? Which entity is responsible for Nestle’s rate ? Thanks.

  7. ksulliva Says:

    Don and Jim,

    I have spoken with Waterworks staff, and I’d like to offer some clarifications:

    The Province requires all those (including the City and Nestle) who take a certain amount of water from a lake, river or groundwater to apply for a permit to take water. There is a renewal fee for the permit, which is set and collected by the Province.

    This is a completely different thing than the rates residents pay to the City for water service. The City’s water rates cover the costs of pumping, testing, and treating the water, maintaining the pipes, and delivering it to your tap.

    Kate Sullivan
    Mayor’s Office

  8. Jim Grant Says:

    Kate – Sorry Kate but I was only serious in my comment above in that Karen’s answer has no bearing on water rates for city of Guelph. It is well understood the need for equipment and management of water. The trouble is that we continue to contradict statements when we say infrastructure requirements and then infrastructure delays, yet rate increases. Water usage and wear and tear and then reduction of water usage through conservation, yet water rate increase. The message coming from City Hall and Water Works is not consistent.

  9. Don Bens Says:

    Kate, thanks for the clarification but none was needed. I’m not confused. Yet my previous question remains strangely unanswered. I think the vast majority of taxpayers would also agree that the rate Nestle pays is extremely low compared to residential rates even considering the infrastructure we need to maintain. We pay over 300 times more. That’s a lot of infrastructure.

  10. ksulliva Says:

    Don, I must be misunderstanding your question. Nestle’s “water rate” (i.e. fee for water taking permit) is set by the Province of Ontario and submitted to the Province.

    It’s not comparable to residential water rates. A better comparator would be the cost of the end product – i.e. what you pay for tap water vs. what you pay for bottled water. The City’s rate includes the costs of providing water to residents (pipes, treatment, etc). The cost of bottled water includes the company’s costs of providing the product (pumping, bottling, etc) plus a profit margin.

    Kate Sullivan
    Mayor’s Office

  11. kfarbridge Says:

    Don, I think we may all be missing each other on this.

    If, very simply, you are saying that Nestle does not pay a sufficient amount for the water they are permitted to take by the Province – which they then treat and bottle for sale to the public – then you need to take up that issue with the Province. That was what I was trying to say right back at the beginning of this exchange. I often receive correspondence from constituents that believe that the City of Guelph has control over Nestle’s water permit. We do not.

    Your statement that residents pay 300 times more than Nestle is not correct and definitely not comparing apples to apples.

    The cost of municipal water is SUBSTANTIALLY less than purchasing bottled water.

  12. Don Bens Says:

    The numbers are fact. Of course i would expect to pay a higher water rate to support infrastructure. From the start i was only making an observation about the dispartity. I think from your last response that the Province set the permit fee as well as the water rate per million litres. Thank you. Here is another observarion. The amount of water that Nestle takes in one day (3.6 million litres) would take a typical Guelph home 14 years to use. I will still make sure i only water my lawn on my appropriate days though.

  13. Doug Roach Says:

    At what point in time did the water related cost for piping and treatment etc. stop being part of city services and stop being part of property tax base?
    The fact that these services as well as some hydro costs are shown as seperate items not covered by property tax is misleading at best and is not a true indication of the cost of living in Guelph.
    Clever accounting, just not honest or transparent.

  14. kfarbridge Says:

    The User Pay Budgets for Water and Wastewater have been in place for decades. The cost for providing these services is fully funded from water rates. There are no municipal tax dollars used to support the operation or capital needs of these services. While this has been the city’s practice for a long time, it is now required by Provincial legislation.

  15. Doug Roach Says:

    How odd!
    I can remember when wastewater was covered under property tax and when flat rate billing for water was common.
    We were not charged a base rate (water and wastewater basic charge) just to be a customer of this city owned company.
    And just who paid for the pipes used before this “user pay” business was formed?
    What’s my point?
    Water and wastewater rate increases should be factored in to the total tax increase figures provided for public consumption.
    It’s like saying the cost of living only went up a bit if you don’t count food, water, heat and clothing.

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