Sunday, March 26, 2017

Some real data on Greater Vernon water use.

Greater Vernon water customers are repeatedly encouraged to keep reducing their water consumption. However, while they keep reducing consumption their rates keep increasing to satisfy the ever increasing budget. 

According to information provided by the Okanagan Basin Water Board Okanagan residents consume an average of 675 liters of water per day as demonstrated below. 

This consumption is well above the Canadian average of 329 liters per day and well above the BC average average of 490 liters as well.

Of course, Greater Vernon Water Utility officials constantly remind us to do our duty and constantly reduce our consumption. So it's worth reviewing how we, Greater Vernon residents contribute to the high water demand. Here is the calculation based on the GVWU Annual Reports:

The total domestic, Industrial, Commercial and Institutional (ICI) water consumption of Greater Vernon for the last 5 years was 30,831 ML for an average of 6,166 ML/year. Assuming a consumer base of 55,000 the average daily water consumption per person is 307 liters and change as compared to the full Okanagan Valley consumption of 675 liters per day. Do we really have much of an effect on the overall daily water consumption of the Okanagan Valley?

Even if we added the agriculture water to our daily consumption the average total consumption would be 65,590 ML or 13,118 ML/year  for a daily combined consumption of 653 liters per person/day, less than the individual consumption of 675 liters per person/year in the Valley.

My question to staff is: why do customers in Greater Vernon need to conserve water more and more while paying for it more and more? The budget is set for any given year using more water will reduce the unit cost of water. At least customers have the extra water for their use.

It is assumed that the information published by the Okanagan Basin Water Board is correct!

Source of information: GVWU Annual Reports 2011; 2012; 2013; 2014; 2015.



Anonymous said...

Let's not assume anything!

Actual residential water usage in Greater Vernon is closer to 222 litres per person per day, not 675.

As Coldstreamer has calculated, we are already "doing the right thing" and conserving water (... probably because our rates are so high!).

Same story with BC Hydro - customers do the right thing and conserve energy, and then the utility hikes the rates. We can't win.

Grasshopper said...

100% agree with you! I have a real issue with the 2 million dollars the OBWB charged taxpayers to come up with this information as well in their Supply and Demand Study. Ive asked numerous times for more information on it from them and in turn been blocked from their FB page :(

Maria Besso said...

The Greater Vernon Water Utility has the same problem as all the water purveyors in the Okanagan Valley. The Okanagan has the lowest per person water supply in Canada, however the sunny dry weather, and good soils are conducive to agriculture. Thanks to the creative ingenuity of engineers in the valley - about 100 years ago irrigation transformed the dry arid landscape into orchards and vineyards. According to the OBWB water supply and demand study, now 85% of our water is going to irrigation. Our problem is that in 2001 the drinking water protection act came into force, as a result of the Walkerton incident in Ontario. One of the unintended consequences of the change in regulations was, now that water utilities have to provide a higher standard of water quality for drinking water, and in the Okanagan there are many areas where domestic customers share water lines (pipes) with irrigation customers and pipes are not separated between agricultural water and domestic drinking water, you have to end up treating huge volumes of water unnecessarily and using it for irrigation, in order to achieve the right water quality for domestic water customers. The eastern centred, Federal gov't, in all its wisdom, gave grants for building water treatment plants - not separating pipes. So in order to avail themselves of federal grants, Okanagan valley water utilities built hugely overcapacity water treatment plants ( like Duteau Creek), and rather than separate pipes, found it cheaper to treat huge volumes of water that would end up on agricultural fields at subsidized rates (because farmers did not want or ask for treated water). The farmers actually owned the water allocation, and so were justified in receiving their water at reduced rates. However, the backlash now from domestic customers is predictable, it makes no sense to treat 85% of your water by volume and use it for agricultural purpose and expect the users, of the other 15% of the water by volume, to pay for the treatment of all the water. Meanwhile the fallacy of hope that reducing the domestic water consumption might decrease your water rates is leading to the browning of all the urban yards... the only people that will be able to afford green lawns will be those with farm status. Meanwhile if domestic consumption decreases, rates will have to increase to cover the fixed costs of the huge water treatment facilities. This conundrum is further aggravated by things like the fact that 45% of the privately owned land in the RDNO is in the ALR. If we want to keep that land in the ALR and keep it productive... we need cheap and plentiful water. We are fortunate in the North Okanagan to have a plentiful supply for agricultural purposes ( diverted from another watershed) but we have foolishly fallen into the propaganda trap of unjustified conservation which will hurt our economy , tourism, and golf courses. It is justified to conserve in many instances, but in the last few years we have had wet years and a full reservoir, so much so that flooding was an issue. Now that we have taken this agricultural water supply ( Duteau Creek) and built an expensive water treatment plant we will certainly have to keep paying a high price for wrong decisions. It may not be too late to reverse some of the wrong decisions but if government leaders keep hiding their heads in the sand and denying there is even a problem then we are unlikely to ever come to a good solution for the environment and the pockets of ratepayers.

Maria Besso

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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.