The transition from a flat rate for water consumption to a metering system looks easy at first glance, but in Summerland the process has been long and complex.
Next month, the rate structure will come before municipal council. The rates are to take effect on Jan. 1.
For the past five years, municipal council and staff have considered various billing models in order to be fair to all residential water users.
Some of the options have included a base rate with surcharges for those who use excessive amounts, a system which charges users a constant rate for every litre and a number of models where the per litre cost increases for those who use excessive amounts of water.
The model which will come before council has surcharges for excess water use, but the amount of water allowed before those higher rates take effect will vary from month to month, in order to accommodate domestic irrigation needs.
The size of a property is also considered when determining the amount of water allowed before higher rates take effect.
While the discussions about the various metering models have been complicated and frustrating at times, a change from the present flat rate structure has been needed for some time.
Under the present structure, all single family homes are charged the same amount for water, even if one uses considerably more than another. Such a system does nothing to encourage conservation or responsible water use.
This is unacceptable, especially in a dry climate.
Once the metering system is in place next year, it will be possible to determine if there are small adjustments to the rates needed. However, the time and effort taken to create this billing model should address most if not all the possible areas of concern.