2016 Water Rate Increase Proposed

Oct 21, 2015

Victoria, BC– The Regional Water Supply Commission will recommend to the CRD Board as part of the 2016 budget process that the 2016 wholesale water rate be set at $0.6375 per cubic metre, effective January 1, 2016, a 1.93% increase over the 2015 wholesale rate.

The increase in the wholesale water rate equates to an annual increase of approximately $2.84 per household (for an average household using 235 cubic metres of water per year). Each year the Regional Water Supply Commission determines its rates after considering the amount of money required to deliver services, manage assets, and complete capital improvements. The CRD Board will make the decision on the proposed increase and adjust bylaws as required.

The 2016 increase is necessary as a result of:

  • Minor increases in operating expenses associated with water supply system operation, maintenance and repair costs, adjustments to the cross connection control program, and provincial water licencing fee changes.
  • Debt expenditures associated with on-going capital infrastructure upgrades and replacement, and the purchase of the Leech Water Supply Area.
  • Agricultural rate funding of $1 million to offset the cost of water consumption for agricultural customers.
  • Adjustments to the budgeted total water demand (water consumed across the Greater Victoria area) to reflect the continuing decline in demand.

“As a result of many years of infrastructure investments and responsible financial management of resources, the Regional Water Supply System is not facing the severe infrastructure deficit that many local government utilities are facing across Canada,” said Mervyn Lougher-Goodey, Chair of the Regional Water Supply Commission.

The Regional Water Supply Commission has been proactive in confronting water supply system infrastructure challenges and has invested more than $130 million into infrastructure renewal projects and programs since 1995, to ensure an adequate source of water and a safe and reliable water disinfection and transmission system. There were additional revenues in 2015 resulting from higher than budgeted demand this summer, which are being used to fund current capital projects and lessen the amount of funding required through loans and long-term debt.

“The delivery of clean, safe drinking water is essential to our everyday life and rate increases are necessary to support this,” said Nils Jensen, CRD Board Chair. “This summer’s drought served as a reminder of the critical nature of our water supply and we encourage residents to continue practicing water conservation.”

Feedback on the proposed 2016 water rate increase can be provided via email at financialplan@crd.bc.ca. Comments will be correlated and provided to the Board as part of the budget planning process.

The CRD is a local government that delivers 200+ regional, sub-regional and local services for residents of the region which includes 13 municipalities and three electoral areas within 2370 square kilometres on southern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. Governed by a 24 member Board of Directors, the CRD is working to serve the public, and build a vibrant, livable and sustainable region.

 

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For media inquiries, please contact:
Hailey Dale, Communications Coordinator
Integrated Water Services
Tel: 250.474.9666
Cell: 250.415.3801

 

Backgrounder

  • The Regional Water Supply System is comprised of 20,549 hectares of water supply area, 6 lake reservoirs and 11 dams, primary and secondary disinfection facilities and 110 kilometres of water transmission mains, delivering on average, 130 million litres of water across Greater Victoria every day.
  • The increase in the wholesale water rate equates to an annual increase of approximately $2.84 per household (for an average household using 235 cubic metres of water per year). The wholesale water rate typically accounts for approximately 40% of the price charged by the retail water suppliers, including municipalities and the CRD Juan de Fuca Water Distribution Service.
  • There were additional revenues in 2015 resulting from higher than budgeted demand this summer, which are being used to fund current capital projects and lessen the amount of funding required through loans and long-term debt.
  • The Regional Water Supply Commission has invested more than $130 million into infrastructure renewal projects and programs since 1995, to ensure an adequate source of water and a safe and reliable water disinfection and transmission system. In addition, the $65 million purchase of the Leech Water Supply Area lands in 2007/2010 provides a sustainable future water supply area for Greater Victoria.
  • Of this investment, $20 million was used to raise the dam in 2002 to increase storage capacity of Sooke Lake Reservoir to provide adequate supply during drought conditions, such as those that were experienced this past summer throughout BC.
  • Over the next five years, $27 million in infrastructure upgrades are currently planned
  • An adjustment to the water demand figure used in calculating the annual budget was necessary to reflect the trend of declining per capita demand across Greater Victoria. Demand is expected to decrease again in 2016 by about 1%, primarily as a result of lower indoor use resulting from low flow fixtures and high-efficiency appliances, and declining water use in the institutional, commercial and industrial sector. Although summer demand was up as much as 20% for approximately six weeks this past summer (related to increased outdoor water use), the effect is seasonal.
  • Water conservation and demand management continue to be important components of the management of the water supply.The benefits of lower demand are:
    • Capital project delay – Less water being used by the community can delay the need to build new water infrastructure that would be necessary to provide increased capacity if demand continued to increase.
    • Fisheries releases – In addition to the water used by customers, water from CRD water reservoirs is released to enhance fish habitat in the Sooke River, Charters River, and Goldstream River.
    • Buffers against the unknown – Having as much water storage in the reservoir as possible, provides the assurance that not only will there be a sufficient quantity of drinking water for the year, but it also provides the flexibility to deal with changing weather and precipitation patterns.
    • Water quality – Less annual fluctuation in Sooke Lake Reservoir water level contributes to a more biologically stable reservoir, through less opportunity for sediment re suspension and nutrient loading, and longer water detention time within the reservoir (which has a number of resulting benefits such as lower turbidity, low colour, neutral pH, low bacteria, and low parasites).