Comox Valley Regional District water rates ‘bizarre and offensive’

Dear editor,

Let's roll this out and see if it is just us that find this bizarre and offensive.

Dear editor,

Let’s roll this out and see if it is just us that find this bizarre and offensive.

Four years ago the 1,500 residents in Area B (and a few in Area C) saw their water rates go to $435 a year (a 142-per-cent increase). (We represent nine per cent of the Valley’s water users.)

This means that over the past four years, the CVRD has collected $2.61 million from that nine per cent. (There has been not one bit of information as to how this money has been spent.)

Then the CVRD put in water meters, telling us they were “free” and that we didn’t pay for them. We were told by the installer that “unless you drastically reduce your water usage you and lots of others are going to pay big time.”

A few weeks later, the Puntledge River is opened for kayakers and a reported 110 cubic metres per second (!) flowed out of the reservoir for four days. Then in July this year, they had to open the outflow again, as the reservoir was too full.

Why are we not exploring opportunities to store this water?

Martine Ouellet, who holds an MBA and bachelor degree in mechanical engineering from McGill University, and also was on the board of directors and the executive committee of the Quebec Coalition on Water Utilization, wrote in her article The Myth of Water Meters that water meters will absolutely reduce water consumption in residential settings is unfounded.

It has been demonstrated repeatedly that water meters have little significant effects on household water consumption. This argument is often used to justify setting up residential water meters paid by citizens.

(If conservation really followed increased cost then there should be fewer not more people driving their cars.)

If the proposed “tiered” water rates are imposed, one-third of these residents will see their water bill increase by another 72 per cent to over $750 per year.

The one person at Comox Valley Regional District responsible for determining these rates and the three directors voting on this are not on water meters and will not be affected at all by this decision!

Pricing per volume should be the same for all, regardless of the ability to pay and will mean a bigger strain on small budgets.

Families or individuals with a low income will have to dedicate a higher proportion of their budget to water charges because, while the price of water is the same for all, income is not.

Those of us on fixed incomes try to make ends meet by growing a small garden of produce to offset their grocery costs. We are encouraged to grow and buy locally, but now we will be penalized to do so.

We are hoping that all those who will  be affected will come to the meeting Oct. 7 at 10 a.m. at the regional district office to show our elected officials that we expect them to reconsider their strategies, show fairness in billing and accountability for monies already collected.

Hal and Alice Bailey,

Little River