Friday, September 18, 2015

Getting soaked for water!


If North Okanagan residents feel like they're getting soaked on their water bill, it's because they pay the highest water rates of the Okanagan's three major cities.

Vernon residents pay for their liquid gold per cubic metre, and the cost is set by the Regional District of North Okanagan on a tiered-rate system.

The first 10 cubic metres cost 51 cents each, but it only goes up from there. For 10-20 cubic metres, the Tier 2 cost is $1.07. For 20-40, the charge is $1.22. For 40-80 cubic metres, residents pay $1.53 and, in the top tier, for 80 cubic metres or more, the price jumps to $2.19.

In Kelowna, residents pay $0.412 for the first 60 cubic metres of water; $0.554 for the next 100; $0.84 for the next 90 and $1.618 per cubic metre for the balance used beyond that.

Kelowna also has a bi-monthly flat rate of $24.10.

Penticton communications officer Simone Blais said the southern city charges a fixed rate of $19.77 per month plus a variable consumption charge of $1.67 per 2.83 cubic metres.

The rates also vary from industrial to residential use.

“There are 10 different fixture rates based on your meter size,” she said.

According to Jennifer Miles, water sustainability co-ordinator with the RDNO, there is also an “infrastructure base fee" in the North Okanagan, which is $101.80 per quarter.

"We have to have a base fee that covers the majority of expenses over the year," she said.

However, Miles said it's difficult to compare Vernon to other centres because “different water systems have different treatment systems. We have different sources in Vernon.”

Vernon gets its water from Kalamalka Lake and the Duteau Creek watershed, while several Okanagan communities draw water from Okanagan Lake.

Miles said Kelowna and Penticton have different treatment systems and may have accessed grants over the years to help offset the expenses of building and maintaining water treatment facilities.


We do not have to cover the majority of expenses by base fees! That flies in the face of our principle of user pay system. The 2015 budget proposes a 55/45% split in favour of base fees. However, a low water consumer (10 cubic meters or less) can pay as much as 95/5% in favour of base fees. That is the bigger problem here (aside from the selected MWP).

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About Me

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I have been a resident of Coldstream since 1976. I have had 15 years of experience on Council, 3 years as Mayor. As a current Councillor I am working to achieve fair water and sewer rates and to ensure that taxpayers get fair treatment. The current direction regarding water supply is unsustainable and I am doing all I can to get the most cost effective water supply possible.