RDCK approves water rate increases

·2 min read

Some residents of the West Kootenays on community water systems are going to face big jumps to their water rates this year.

RDCK directors approved a new bylaw setting the rates for water and sewer services in areas with community water systems.

Among the communities facing hefty jumps are Burton (20.1%), Woodbury (10%) and Edgewood (27%).

Staff told directors the goal is to secure the medium-and-long-term financial stability of the water systems.

“We have for years tried, in many water systems, through small tweaks in the rates to get to the Asset Management recommendations for contributions,” said General Manager of Environmental Systems Uli Wolf. “But now we know the gap between what we actually need and what is contributed is getting bigger and bigger.

“We finally came to the realization that this is not going to work. It is going to get us in a situation where we become financially unsustainable.”

While Edgewood residents face the biggest increase, it won’t come out of the pockets of most of them because of agreements with BC Hydro dating back to the flooding of the Arrow Lakes. Residents’ water bills are covered by Hydro as part of a grandfathering agreement – as are Burton’s and Fauquier’s. Only about 12 of the Edgewood system’s 73 users will face the big hike in their rates – which could be as much as $2,000 this year.

The new rate structure was one of two bylaws passed by the RDCK’s Rural Affairs Committee regarding water. The second was a more housekeeping piece of legislation, with wording changes in the water bylaw for clarity.

Highlights of the proposed bylaw changes include new rules for developers who may want to install water infrastructure into existing systems, putting off water metering on some residential and family properties for at least two more years, and relocating public water lines off private property, where possible.

John Boivin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice