Summerland’s proposed water usage rate structure is a good start on encouraging water conservation, but it falls short of making us change our water-happy habits.
There is no incentive to lower usage below 20 cubic metres, even though perhaps 10 cubic metres might be in reach for small, water-efficient households.
That’s because the base rate stays at $30 for the first 20 cubic metres. This structure keeps us careful, but doesn’t push us to be ultra-conservative.
After the 20 cubic metre mark, usage rates rise to 35 cents, 55 cents and 90 cents a cubic metre. These higher rates should prove to be incentive for the big users to use water more efficiently.
Monitoring irrigation output and moisture levels, fixing leaks and using water-conserving appliances and equipment will make economic sense.
In the past, water was billed at a flat rate. This week, residents are receiving mock bills to show what their water consumption and rate would be under the proposed system. The idea is to penalize excessive water use by way of the pocketbook. The information-only bills will give residents a chance to start reducing water usage before it costs them.
Residents should take a good look at the statements, which are being sent separately from regular utility bills, and get back to the municipality with any feedback, concerns or questions.
The water situation in Summerland is pretty good this year, with full reserviors, an improved water infrastructure and a population respectful of watering restrictions.
The proposed water billing system is about the future: continuing to have good water to drink and enough water to keep some of our naturally arid landscape green.
Some of us could take the new usage information as a challenge to go well below the 20 cubic metre mark.