The Regional District of Central Kootenay has passed a bylaw that will allow it to charge for water based on metering in the 19 rural water systems it owns.
“It is a signal that the regional district intends to move toward residential monitoring at a very gradual pace,” said environmental services manager Uli Wolf.
The bylaw, adopted in January, includes these requirements among others:
• new single family dwellings must have the capability for future metering;
• existing single family units must be metered by Dec. 31, 2024;
• new regional district water connections serving multiple dwelling, commercial, industrial, agricultural and recreational facilities must have water meters installed;
• existing connections serving multiple dwelling, commercial, industrial, agricultural and recreational facilities must have water meters installed by Dec. 31, 2019;
• regional water connections in the Grandview and Rosebery systems must have a meter installed by the owner by June 30, 2016.
The regional district is planning a mock billing exercise in the Grandview subdivision near Balfour in early 2017, with the participation of residents, to help both the regional district and residents see what a meter-based bill would look like. The 25 existing residences were built with water meters installed, making it a good place for this experiment. The subdivision will eventually have up to 100 residences.
Currently homeowners in the subdivision pay for their water through a parcel tax and a flat fee. The regional district wants to bring in the same amount of tax revenue under a new system, but metering could mean charges will be unevenly distributed. Those who use more will pay more, particularly people who do large-scale irrigation.
“There will be positive and negative surprises,” Wolf said. “This will lead some people to rethink how much water they use.”
The main goals of the new bylaw, in Grandview and elsewhere in the regional district, are water conservation, fairer cost distribution, and lower operating costs, Wolf said.
Water distribution is particularly expensive whenever the water comes from the lake, as in Grandview, because of the costs of filtering, chlorination, UV, and pumping. Wolf said the Balfour system has reached its current pumping and treatment limits, and he hopes conservation will defer capital costs or expansion.