The seasonal water rates that are being proposed by city council are unfair to large families.
Introducing a tiered rate structure might be a fair strategy to conserve water if we assume that every household has the same number of family members. But this is not the case.
The amount of water that a household consumes is directly proportional to the number of family members.
Consider the consequences for large families under the proposed seasonal water rates. The proposed rate structure will put a disproportionate burden on large families as they will see rate increases up to 400 per cent.
The City of Abbotsford is proposing that different rates be applied according to how much water is consumed by a household.
For households that consume less than 60 cubic metres of water every two months, the city is proposing a base rate of $1.08 per cubic metre of water.
Once a household requires 60-90 cubic metres of water, the price of water then doubles.
After a household consumes over 90 cubic metres of water, the rate will increase to four times greater than the base rate.
According to the city’s own figures, the average household consumes 80 cubic metres of water from July to August.
Therefore, most average-sized families will be adversely affected by the proposed rates during the summer.
But it will be large-sized families that will be hit hardest.
A household with eight family members can’t be expected to consume the same amount of water as a family of two.
Larger families have more people that require the use of toilets, showers, and washing machines.
Is it fair to charge large households 400 per cent more, when those households legitimately need a greater amount of water?
If the city’s goal is to reduce water consumption, then a tiered rate structure is ineffective.
Smaller families will not be motivated to conserve water, since they can easily stay within the allowable consumption of the first tier.
It would appear that the tiered rate structure has less to do with motivating people to reduce water consumption, and has more to do with finding new ways to generate revenue for the city.
As an alternative, the city should impose a flat rate increase of $1.15 per cubic metre.
A flat rate would ensure that all families are charged fairly for their water consumption.
It would motivate both small and large families to conserve water.