Friday, August 21, 2015

Nanaimo Water Conservation - Water Fees Catch 22

Water use reduction
means water revenue shortfall

The recent level 2 watering restrictions have resulted in Nanaimo residents using far less water than the current city budget was based upon.

The delivery of water in the city of Nanaimo is supposed to be funded only through the water user rates which are already budgeted to increase by 5% every year. Even with the increase of 7.5% at the start of 2015 there is an anticipated water operating deficit of $929,000.00 based on current data.

It is thought that the level 2 water restrictions have resulted in a revenue shortfall of $670,000.00 which combined with lower than anticipated water usage will result in the $929,000.00 shortfall by year's end.

Catch 22

The more water rates increase, the more consumption conscious consumers reduce their use of water. Installing low flow toilets, water saving appliances, taking shorter showers and watching how long you leave the lawn sprinkler running can all have a huge impact on consumption.

This reduced consumption also equals reduced revenue at city hall through water user rates. The net result is, that the more we conserve water, the more the city will have to charge to cover the cost of operations.

Adding to the reduced consumption impact on water rates there will also be the increased annual cost of operating when the new water treatment plant comes online. That was budgeted to come online this fall, but is delayed resulting in a $502,000.00 reduction in budgeted operating costs. 

User fees are just taxes by another name and one of the 'advantages' of a user fee is that to some degree we can control how much we have to pay. In the case of water we can reduce our consumption, which reduces our bill. However, it seems that is simply creating a funding problem which will mean the rates will have to increase more than the 5% to cover the cost of operating.


1 comment:

  1. Interestingly enough I questioned a local nursery who were watering after noon a couple of days ago...maybe Thursday. The owner did not come out to talk to me, but told his cashier that they have an exemption because they fall under agriculture. Well that's fine, but they still are not allowed to water between 10 and 4, nor should they be soaking their parking lot, the sidewalk and the street in front of their business...makes me think twice about dealing with them going forward. That is rubbing it in for those who do try to follow the rules. Very bad PR in my estimation


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