EDITORIAL: Water pressure

Since water meters were installed in all Abbotsford homes, residents have been charged for the amount of water they use.

Since water meters were installed in all Abbotsford homes, residents have been charged for the amount of water they use.

“Pay for what you use” is an effective measure in water conservation.

Last year, the city went one step further, initiating “tiered” water rates. This structure sees users pay a standard rate of $1.13 per cubic metre (1,000 litres). But in the peak use months, May to October, the cost jumps to $1.43 for 60 to 91 cubic metres and rises again to $2.26 for every cubic metre over 91.

As one would predict, large families and homes with rental suites see substantially larger water bills.

More people in a house inevitably leads to more water use, particularly for showers, laundry and toilet flushes.

Council is now under pressure from such homeowners to consider a return to a flat annual rate, or offer a tiered break to high-use groups.

It is important to remember that the “pay for what you use” principle still applies in either case.

Bringing back a flat rate is not wise.

Abbotsford is a growing city, with a very finite supply of water. Conservation is paramount in controlling water consumption, and the tiered rates are key in achieving those goals.

We don’t see this system as being unfair, as some claim.

Having large and/or extended families under one roof is a choice. Renting out a suite is a choice, and landlords can price accordingly to reflect tenants’ water use.

Expecting the city to continually monitor the number of people in a house in order to charge a lowered rate for large families is unrealistic.

The city can adjust the volume levels at which the tiered rates come into effect, to offer some relief.

Council should not, however, bow to the pressure to eliminate tiered rates, which are an effective and necessary conservation initiative.