Water is a precious thing. Williams Lake is blessed with an abundant source of fresh, clean water that’s relatively easy to extract and distribute. Unfortunately, like any good thing, our water supply is not infinite. During the past two years, the City of Williams Lake has worked hard to determine just how much water there is, and how to best manage it to ensure adequate supplies for future generations.
Water Pricing and Rates Setting
The Capital Regional District (CRD), in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands and the Peninsula Agricultural Commission, initiated the “Agricultural Water Use and Conservation Study” to gather, analyze, and present data on farm water use and conservation practices across the CRD. The resulting information will be used to set water rates for the agricultural sector, and to help the CRD develop water conservation program.
Equity has long been an important principle of utility rate design, but until now no measure of rate equity has been developed and applied systematically to municipal water rate structures.
There are three areas that utilities should address to improve their financial strength: financial planning and management, effective pricing, and affordability. This article discusses these areas, as well as their benefit and importance in encouraging effective planning and preparation for utilities to meet future challenges.
It has been suggested recently that water and sewage utilities move to “full-cost” accounting as a means of addressing some of the challenges facing them. However, there are disagreements regarding how to implement this concept, and few estimates exist that show the impact of such a change.
Even in “water-rich” Canada, many jurisdictions are having trouble providing adequate, clean fresh water as their populations not only grow, but also exhibit higher expectations for water availability and water safety. The conventional approach to such problems accepted the history of constantly growing demand for water and responded by extending pipelines, constructing more dams and drilling deeper.
An up-to-date customer information system (CIS) is an essential component of an effective water utility business. These systems are responsible for a wide range of key business activities including billing, managing credit and collections, tracking water consumption, and responding to customers' needs.
The City of Kelowna Water Utility takes conservation seriously, and 2005 will be remembered as the year the utility kicked its Water Smart program into high gear.