Vernon water rates make the grade

A survey indicates Greater Vernon residents are not being soaked for water.

A survey indicates Greater Vernon residents are not being soaked for water.

The Regional District of North Okanagan has compared Greater Vernon’s domestic water rates with other Thompson-Okanagan jurisdictions.

“We don’t have the most expensive water in the valley,” said Al Cotsworth, utilities manager. “Last year, we were the 17th highest out of 22 billing areas and this year we’re 15th.”

The maximum annual cost within the surveyed jurisdictions was a flat fee of $834 (Naramata) and the minimum was a metered fee of $255 (Lakeview Irrigation in West Kelowna).

Greater Vernon’s price was a metered $572.

Director Doug Dirk doesn’t believe the survey results should be used to determine fees.

“I’d use our need and projections to set rates,” he said.

Dirk believes other factors that could impact rates are infrastructure upgrades and the possible legal case over contamination of the Antwerp Springs well.

“How are we going to apply that? Are we just going to jack the per metre rate up or do we consider other options?” he said.

Director Mike Gavinchuk isn’t convinced the cost of water matters to some residents.

“If he (customer) wants to pour water on his lawn or shower six times a day, he’s going to pay,” said Gavinchuk.

RDNO staff have received some recent complaints over rates.

“During the boil water advisory (on Kalamalka Lake), people were saying, ‘Why are we paying so much when we can’t drink it?’ Some wanted a rebate,” said Cotsworth.

Wayne Lippert, Greater Vernon Advisory Committee chairperson, says the survey is somewhat irrelevant because it does not reflect circumstances in each community that may impact water rates.

“Look at Naramata. Court action there threw rates out of whack,” he said.

“It’s nice to see where we are with other communities but we’re a non-profit organization. We’re not here to make a profit. We’re here to provide a service.”