When the municipality began to set out a structure for metered water rates, the process seemed simple.
The reality was something far more involved and complicated than anyone could have anticipated.
Some of the metering models would have penalized homeowners with large lawns. Others would have addressed water waste, but without encouraging water conservation measures. Some would have saved considerable money for those in apartments or condominium units, but added significantly to the costs of those with gardens.
However, a metering model is essential. Summerland’s present billing system, which charges a flat monthly fee for water users, does nothing to encourage water conservation measures.
Those who minimize their water use pay the same as those who waste water.
A metering system, by its nature, will reduce water consumption. Water customers will be aware of how much or how little water they are using and they can alter their water use patterns as a result.
The rate model which was presented this week has a base rate for the water service and rates based on the amount of water a property should require.
Determining this billing system was a lengthy process, taking five years.
The result is a comprehensive 22-page bylaw, covering domestic water metering for the community.
Throughout the many meetings and discussions about the metering structure, one point has been repeated: A rate structure must be fair for all users.
In January, when the metered system takes effect, there will be an adjustment for some, but in the end, the result will be more awareness of our water supply and more careful use of this precious resource.