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Rural Comox Valley residents hear about water rates
About 50 people attended a mock billing information meeting Monday hosted by the regional district to discuss recommended water rates and results of a mock billing period.
A mock billing program is intended to clarify water use patterns and cost, and to ensure adequate user rate revenues are generated to fund the service.
The CVRD implemented the program in the Arden, Marsden/Camco and other water local service areas in late-2011 when the water metering project was completed.
The 2013 flat rate residential charge for water for Courtenay and Comox residents in a single-family home is $317 and $327 per year, respectively, for unlimited volume.
The CVRD’s metered water rate has yet to be determined. The mock rate includes a minimum charge of $304.08 per year.
However, customers who use more than 60,000 litres per four months — about enough to fill 222 bathtubs — pay additional tiered charges.
Rates have only been used for mock billing purposes and will likely change slightly before being adopted by the CVRD board.
As part of developing a metered water rate, the CVRD determined a basic household requirement for water.
This amount has been determined to be 480 litres per household per day. This represents the basic minimum amount of water a family typically needs to satisfy indoor water use requirements. It does not account for outdoor use.
However, the mock rate includes a large volume of water for discretionary (outdoor) use such as irrigation, washing vehicles, or filling pools or hot tubs, says Marc Rutten, senior manager of engineering services.
The amount of water used for gardening depends on various factors, the most important being the quality of the soil, Rutten added. Well-draining yards (sandy) require frequent watering to maintain plants as most of the water drains before plants have a chance to absorb the water.
However, if an area has a thick layer of top soil acting as a sponge, then less irrigation water is required because plants can suck water from the sponge over time. Rutten said many local governments have top soil bylaws that require a minimum 12 inches of topsoil in order to conserve irrigation water.
If property owners have quick draining soil and a large landscape to maintain they will likely consume a large amount of water.