Water rates draw a crowd at Enderby city hall

Several residents crammed into council chambers to express frustration about mock bills

Concerns over water rates boiled over as Enderby city council met Monday.

Several residents crammed into council chambers to express frustration about mock bills that indicate what they would pay through water meters.

“The gallery was full. It was standing room only,” said Coun. Raquel Knust.

Before metered water rates are launched in 2015, the city has been sending out mock bills this year so residents can see how much water they use and adjust their consumption. A concern has arisen among the top four per cent of residential water users.

“People were not fixing their leaks and they weren’t getting a true reading,” said Knust.

“I understand what they are saying because I have a high bill. But I understand that I need to bring in rain barrels and conserve water.”

Instead of just relying on metered rates, council decided Monday to keep the flat user fee of $242, with a consumption charge not to exceed $1.38 per cubic meter for usage above 180 cubic meters.

“As $242 is the flat rate that residents are currently being charged, the revenue received from the consumption charge is over what the city needs to run the water system and will be used to reduce the $242 flat rate,” said Jennifer Bellamy, chief financial officer.

“Staff is to prepare a bylaw with the revised rates and bring it forward to council at the next council meeting.”

The original goal of the mock bills was to urge people to curtail any water use.

“Nobody took them seriously and didn’t look at them,” said Coun. Greg McCune.

Metered water rates were structured to provide the city with enough revenue to operate the water system and to reduce water consumption by 25 per cent so future infrastructure expansion could be deferred.