The water rates for northern Area D have continued to rise, along with use. Submitted photo

Strathcona Regional District sends info with water bills to explain hike

Regional district also looking at ways to reduce water use in northern Area D

The Strathcona Regional District is sending out its utility bills, and with them, an explanation.

With substantial rate hikes for the north part of Area D again, the SRD has decided to include information explaining the amounts, the reasons behind this and ways people in the area can conserve water, especially during hot, dry months.

“The Strathcona Regional District (SRD) is focused on delivering a more sustainable water system for Electoral Area D,” says SRD chief administrative officer David Leitch. “This involves pursuing grant funding opportunities and ensuring that the rates charged cover the costs of bulk water purchased from the City of Campbell River, as well as ongoing operations, capital maintenance and upgrades to the water system. We recognize that Electoral Area D residents may have questions with regards to the recent water rate changes and an informative communication insert has been included with this month’s utility billings. The recent rate increases reflect the true cost of delivering a potable, reliable water supply.”

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The information package starts off by highlighting the rate increases for non-metered users, who make up the majority of users. The residential rates will go up from $800 last year to $920 for 2019. For non-residential customers, last year’s rate of $1,200 will go up to $1,380. Later on, it includes the break-down for rate increases based on cubic metres for customers on meters. They, too, will see increases of their user fees and rates.

The SRD also points out about 70 per cent of water use happens outside during the summer months, especially because of sprinkler use on lawns. Water conservation education teams will be hosting information booths during this period at different parks in the area

“Ongoing water conservation effort and maintaining or reducing current consumption is the best option to keep costs down,” says Leitch.

As to the reason for the increases, the SRD says the cost of purchasing bulk water from the City of Campbell River has increased significantly over the last five years. As well, it points out the consumption of water in the north part of Area D has also gone up in recent years. In 2014, the area used 655,788 cubic metres of water compared with 861,722 cubic metres in 2018.

Finally, the SRD highlights some of its efforts to reduce water use, such as a grant application to install water meters for all residents and an update to a water system study.

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The subject of water rates for the north half of Area D has been contentious over the last couple of years, as Area D Director Brenda Leigh has opposed efforts by the SRD to increase the rates.

As well, a resident launched a legal case against both the regional district and the City of Campbell River over the hikes last year, but most of his case was dismissed in B.C. Supreme Court in Nanaimo earlier this year.