Summerlanders will soon see how much water they are using as the municipality sends out consumption information. The statements, to be sent separately from the municipal utility bills, are information statements to show how much water a household is using and how much it would cost under the proposed billing system.
Under the proposed water meter rates, Summerlanders would pay $30 after the 10 per cent discount for up to 20 cubic metres or 20,000 litres of water.
Additional water is charged at three rates, with the amount allotted under each rate based on the size of the property.
For those who go over the base allotment, the charge is 35¢ a cubic metre, then 55¢ a cubic metre and finally 90¢ a cubic metre for the most excessive water use.
Mayor Janice Perrino said municipal council had considered several billing options before settling on the system which will be used. In the past, water has not been metered in Summerland. Instead, residential users pay $35.82 for an unlimited amount.
Perrino said the metered system with escalating rates for excessive consumption will encourage water conservation.
The system also penalizes those who waste water.
“We want to give a break to those who conserve and we want to stop water abusers,” Perrino said.
She said the high rates for high consumption will serve as a deterrent to many who might otherwise water excessively or inefficiently.
“When it comes to people’s pocketbooks, they decide what they want to spend their money on,” she said.
Summerland’s watering restrictions will remain in place even after metering is in use.
At present, Summerland has several stages of watering restrictions for residential users. At present, users are allowed to water their lawns three times a week, but depending on the reservoir levels, lawn watering may be reduced to twice a week or once a week or prohibited entirely.
“We can still restrict as the need arises,” Perrino said.
In 2003, the worst drought in decades, Summerland came close to running out of water in its reservoirs.
Since that time, Thirsk Dam has been raised, doubling the size of Thirsk Lake and increasing by around 25 per cent the total water capacity for the community.
Because Summerland is in a dry area, water conservation will continue to be an issue, Perrino said.
“We need to be sensible,” she said. “It’s such a privilege to have good, healthy water to drink. We need to use it wisely.”