A new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Abbotsford and Mission regarding water usage is one of the suggestions made by city staff in a report to be presented on Feb. 6.
Written by Jim Gordon, Abbotsford’s general manager of engineering and regional utilities, the report indicated it could be anywhere from the summer of 2018 to 2024 before Abbotsford has a new water supply.
Gordon wrote that the no vote result from the Nov. 21, 2011 referendum on the Stave Lake water project delayed the new water source by an estimated two to eight years, depending on what course of action is now planned. The report makes some recommendations and asks for “clear direction” on how to proceed.
It suggests two initial steps – placing a priority on conservation and developing a MOU.
Gordon was reluctant to comment on the report until council hears it publicly.
He wrote that an MOU “defining the allotment of the current water sources needs to be adopted by both councils to fairly reward a municipality that is able to reduce their water use.”
Abbotsford recently moved to new, radio-read smart water meters and bi-monthly billing. It is hoped the system will promote conservation by making the public aware of how much water is consumed. Mission does not have that service.
Coun. John Smith believes the MOU is a must, considering the conservation efforts Abbotsford is making.
“Mission doesn’t even have mechanical meters, let alone radio-read meters,” said Smith.
He said Mission does what “a lot of other communities without meters do” – charge a flat rate regardless of usage.
“They take the total cost of water, divide it by the number of residents and that’s your price,” said Smith.
He added the system provides no incentive to not use water.
Smith believes the two cities need to address the maximum amount of water that can be used by each city, each day.
“As we increasingly use less from a limited source of water, and they don’t increasingly use less … we could be out of luck.”
Conservation efforts also need to be increased in the coming years, according to another staff report, also being presented on Feb. 6.
Reviewing 2011 conservation efforts, it shows the peak day water demand was 93 million litres in a day (MLD), down 33 per cent from 2007 when the city hit a record high of 139 MLD. The average day demand in 2011 was 69 MLD, down 12 per cent from 2007’s average of 78.
As the population of Abbotsford and Mission rise, it is expected that average water usage and peak day usage will also rise unless conservation efforts increase.