WORTH EVERY PENNY: Regional District of Nanaimo releases program details for ‘Water Pricing Workshop’ on September 9, 2010

Note to Reader:

Part of the rollout to stimulate a national dialogue on sustainable water management, the Nanaimo Water Pricing Workshop is decribed as the first of its kind in Canada. The workshop program is a unique blend of research and practice. The workshop will connect the dots between three initiatives:

  • Action for Water, implemented by the Regional District of Nanaimo following approval in a referendum in November 2008.
  • Worth Every Penny: A Primer on Conservation-Oriented Water Pricing, released in May 2010.
  • Beyond the Guidebook 2010: Implementing a New Culture for Urban Watershed Protection and Restoration in British Columbia, released in June 2010.

This is the the second in a series of articles that preview and/or foreshadow what to expect at the Nanaimo Water Pricing Workshop. The purpose of the ‘preview series’ is to both stimulate interest in attending and establish expectations about the workshop takeaways. This announcement shines the spotlight on the Workshop Agenda.

SECOND ANNOUNCEMENT: Conservation-Oriented Water Pricing is a tool to a larger end: Sustainable Service Delivery

On September 9th, the Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) is hosting Worth Every Penny: An Introduction to Conservation-Oriented Water Pricing and Sustainable Service Delivery.

“The ‘water pricing workshop’ has resulted from a three-way collaboration involving the RDN, the POLIS Water Sustainability Project, and Convening for Action on Vancouver Island (CAVI),” states John Finnie, General Manager of Regional & Community Utilities with the RDN. He is also CAVI Chair.

“The desired outcome for the workshop is that participating practitioners will understand why ‘conservation-oriented water pricing’ is a tool to achieve a larger end.”

“Kirk Stinchcombe and Oliver Brandes, Water Pricing Primer co-authors, will anchor the morning part of the program. They will conduct a knowledge-transfer session on water pricing. The RDN’s Mike Donnelly and the Province’s Glen Brown will anchor the afternoon program. They will lead town hall sharing and learning sessions on Vancouver Island water pricing experience and sustainable service delivery, respectively.”

To Learn More:

To download a poster that is complete with pre-registration information, click on How you can register to participate in “Worth Every Penny: A Learning Lunch Workshop”

For details of the actual program, click on Draft Agenda for Nanaimo Water Pricing Workshop

Connect the Dots

“We are also approaching the workshop as an opportunity to connect the dots between three initiatives: the RDN’s Action for Water, the Water Pricing Primer developed by POLIS, and Beyond the Guidebook 2010,” continues John Finnie.

“In November 2008, the RDN established a provincial precedent by creating a drinking water and watershed protection service area with taxation authority in an electoral area.”

“In May 2010, POLIS published Worth Every Penny: A Primer on Conservation-Oriented Water Pricing. The Primer explains how conservation-oriented pricing works, what the benefits are, and how water utilities can implement and transition to this system over time. “

“Released in June, Beyond the Guidebook 2010: Implementing a New Culture for Urban Watershed Protection and Restoration in British Columbia describes how water sustainability can and will be achieved through implementation of green infrastructure policies and practices.”

Call to Action

“Water pricing is a hot issue in communities across the country. Yet it remains an almost totally untapped option for helping ensure our water service infrastructure — the pipes,pumps and reservoirs — is well maintained and up to date,” states Kirk Stinchcombe.

“With publication of the Water Pricing Primer, my co-authors and I hope to stimulate a national dialogue on this issue by making the  case for the use of conservation-oriented water pricing as tool for sustainable water management and to promote a modern approach to water infrastructure financing in Canada.”

Key Messages

“The workshop emphasis will be on the basics and the everyday challenges faced by water purveyors, especially the small systems. Our objective is to impart three main messages,” continues John Finnie.

“FIrst, pricing is a tool that needs to be situated in a broader context. To provide a picture of what we mean, Mike Donnelly of the RDN will elaborate on our approach in Action for Water. He will emphasize that water pricing is a ‘dropdown’ within the overall strategy.”

“Secondly, water pricing is an emerging and doable approach. This is why publication of the Primer is so timely. It draws on case study experience to offer advice on how to address implementation challenges, including how to maintain revenue stability for water utilities.”

“The third key message is that others are doing it at various scales. Work in progress examples include the RDN, the town of Tofino, and the Comox Valley local governments.”

Sustainable Service Delivery

“In the final segment of the program, Glen Brown will connect the dots between financial accountability. infrastructure sustainability and service delivery. He will also elaborate on a set of five principles that provide a mind-map for asset management. The desired outcome for Glen’s part is that workshop participants will understand why an over-arching goal is to deliver a cost-effective service AND sustain the water resource,” concludes John Finnie.