Summerland’s transition from a flat rate for water consumption to metering will not happen in 2013.
At the Dec. 10 municipal council meeting, council voted to establish a water meter rate which will come into effect on Jan. 1, 2014.
For 2013, municipal staff will prepare options for revised metered water rates, which will then be presented to the public for further input and feedback.
Coun. Bruce Hallquist said the conversion to metered water billing is a complex process.
In other communities in the B.C. Interior, the conversion to metered water has also been a time-consuming and difficult process.
“We won’t be able to please 100 per cent of the people,” he said, “but we want to try and get it as right as possible the first time around.”
Mayor Janice Perrino said it has been difficult to find an appropriate billing model.
“The problem is it’s incredibly complicated,” she said.
Since the municipality began the move towards water metering, council has considered numerous billing models.
The present model, which has been used in mock bills sent out by the municipality, has a flat rate with various levels of surcharge for additional water use.
Perrino said the billing model will be set up to discourage those who are excessive water users.
“Most people conserve water,” she said. “Most people are very good with their water use.”
The billing model is complex in part because residential users, orchards, farms and vineyards all have different consumption needs.
She said the biggest challenge for the community is in managing the water supply, especially in dry years.
In the summer of 2003, during the worst drought year in Summerland’s history, the community came close to running out of water. Since that time, efforts have been made to expand the water storage. The capacity of Thirsk Lake was doubled, which increased Summerland’s total water capacity by around 25 per cent.