Discounted water rates for heavy users being phased out

Greenhouse operators concerned loss of tiered rates will impact bottom line

  • Nov. 14, 2015 3:00 p.m.

Abbotsford is in the final stages of phasing out discounted water and sewer rates for heavy commercial and industrial users.

Local farmers, many of whom rely on city water for their operations, aren’t happy.

“That’s a [large] increase in what my members will be paying for water, and certainly they’re not happy with it,” said Linda Delli Santi, the BC Greenhouse Growers Association executive director. “It will be significant to their bottom line.”

Those agricultural and industrial businesses that use less than 1,667 cubic metres (about half of an Olympic-size swimming pool) in two months are currently charged 90 per cent of residential rates for water and sewer. If they use more, all additional usage costs 85 per cent of residential rates. With a current residential rate of $1.15 per per cubic metre, that is a significant savings for heavy users.

The city began the phase-out of discounts in 2013 at which time they had three pricing tiers, and the heaviest users paid the cheapest prices.

Potable municipal water isn’t allowed to be used for irrigation in Abbotsford, but the city supplies agricultural-grade water to local farms. That water is allocated approximately “36 per cent to livestock, poultry and dairy operations, 10 per cent to greenhouse operations and 54 per cent to other agricultural uses,” according to city information.

Though many greenhouse growers rely on the municipal water grid, Delli Santi said, most do all they can to conserve water so she doesn’t buy the city’s hope to encourage conservation by cutting the discounted rate.

“We’re told this is to encourage conservation but if a plant needs water, you’ve got to feed it,” she said. Greenhouse growing systems route water directly to each plant, and recirculate the excess, she said. Many growers also collect rainwater when available to supplement the municipal water supply.

“How much more can you conserve? You’re only giving the plant what it needs,” she said.

Abbotsford’s municipal water system came under unusual stress this summer, when hot and dry weather lowered levels at the Dickson Lake reservoir and forced the city to extend the usual period for water use restrictions.

According to a city web page explaining the change in water rates, “The pricing of water and sewer services is an important aspect of both water conservation and the generation of revenue needed to maintain our community’s infrastructure.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

UPDATE: Abbotsford shooting victim was alleged ‘crime boss,’ according to court documents

Jazzy Sran, 43, was believed to have been smuggling cocaine across the border

VIDEO: Former Abbotsford resident giving away $1,000

Langley native Alex Johnson creates elaborate treasure hunt to give away cash

Missing Richmond man last seen in Chilliwack

Shawn Johnson last seen on June 30 on Main Street

Abbotsford man wins $1 million in Lotto 6/49 draw

Kenneth Giffen wins prize after deciding to stop in Agassiz gas station after fishing trip

Double homicide investigation leads Vancouver police to Eagle Landing

A VPD forensics unit was in Chilliwack Saturday collecting evidence connected to East Van murders

Wage subsidy will be extended until December amid post-COVID reopening: Trudeau

Trudeau said the extension will ‘give greater certainty and support to businesses’

Double homicide investigation leads Vancouver police to Chilliwack

A VPD forensics unit was in Chilliwack Saturday collecting evidence connected to East Van murders

Tree planters get help with COVID-19 protective measures

Ottawa funds extra transportation, sanitizing for crews

Trudeau apologizes for not recusing himself from WE decision

He says his and his family’s longtime involvement with the WE organization should have kept him out of the discussions

Beverly Hills 90210 star’s family selling Vancouver Island Beach Resort

You can own Jason Priestley’s Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet for less than $5 million

Islanders want BC Ferries to follow order that lets residents board before tourists

For ferry-dependent communities, ferries are often the sole practical lifeline to work, school or medical appointments.

Washington’s NFL team drops ‘Redskins’ name after 87 years

The franchise was given the name back in 1933, when it was still in Boston

Most Read