Utility Rate Changes
|Update: The current utility information was presented to City Council at their regular Dec. 17, 2018 meeting. Council requested that a visual representation of our entire water & wastewater systems be created to help communicate what specific charges are for. This visual guide will be posted here once it is complete.|
We've heard your concerns about the utility rate increases and hope the following information helps you understand why they are necessary.
Wastewater Consumption Charge Explained
A wastewater consumption charge was added to local utility bills as of Oct. 1, 2018. This charge pays for the treatment of our wastewater. Residential customers are charged $1/m3, and non-residential customers are charged $1.25/m3 (the non-res rate is higher as they have different effluent from things like increased chemical use, etc.).
Previously, only a flat fee for wastewater was charged. This meant that smaller households were supplementing the wastewater treatment costs of larger ones. There was also no differentiation between residential and non-residential effluent—the latter being more expensive to treat.
|The good news? You can now control your costs by controlling your water consumption.|
Not sure where to start? Read the list of water saving tips by 'Water Use It Wisely'.
How We Compare to Other Alberta Municipalities
The following graph illustrates the average monthly residential utility costs (as of October 1, 2018, which includes the new wastewater fee) for Wetaskiwin and surrounding communities. Compared to other Alberta municipalities, Wetaskiwin is still below the average of $137.54 per month.
The average monthly utility bill was calculated assuming 20 m3 of water use (which is the national average). Now that you can control your costs directly through your consumption, you have the ability to reduce your expenses by using less water.
|Did You Know? You only need 67 Litres of water per day to meet your basic needs. Even if you increased that amount to 100 L per day, you would still only be using 3 m3 of water per month.|
Saving Properly for Infrastructure
Historically, the City of Wetaskiwin only ever charged ratepayers for what was needed to cover the cost of consumption (including water treatment). This remained the case until the 10-year capital plan was approved by City Council in 2017. No funds were being directed to a water/wastewater reserve for emergencies and future asset management. Repairs were made only when required—further impacting our infrastructure and driving up replacement costs.
Wetaskiwin City Council is currently lobbying the provincial and federal governments to cover 90% of the $40 million required for the treatment plant. The remaining 10% would be collected through increased user fees.
In order to build up our utility reserves and begin properly managing our infrastructure, increases to user fees must occur. This is especially important as the City of Wetaskiwin has been mandated by Alberta Environment & Parks to upgrade its wastewater treatment plant. The total expected cost of this project is $40 million. If we fail to upgrade our water treatment plant, heavy fines could be placed on the City.
City Working to Reduce Overall Utility Costs
Here are some ways the City is working to reduce overall utility costs:
- Source control to stop heavy polluters that cause damage to our wastewater system.
- Proper asset management to ensure projects are completed before failure (which reduces costs by 30%).
- Proposing to make high polluters pay more so others are not subsidizing them.
- Proactively finding new initiatives to reduce costs in waste and water.
- Developing a proper storm water management plan to deal with climate change issues (this includes the use of bio-swales and rain gardens that cost the same as traditional storm water structures but can process higher volumes of storm water and are drought tolerant).
- Update the engineering standards to be in line with industry best practice. One example of this is in residential roads we will have slightly more narrow streets which will be less costs when it comes to a local improvement down the road.
- We have implemented overlays to extend the life of the road by 10 to 15 years rather than just reconstructing two blocks per year.
- We have implemented cheaper utility structure repairs such as cured-in-place lining.
- Implementing/enforcing stricter rules to control water use and reduce treatment costs for storm water (i.e. not washing your car in the road, etc.).