Water utility rates going up in 2021

irrigation

Water utility rates are changing on January 1st, 2021.

On Monday, Kelowna council discussed a 3% increase to wastewater utility rates and a 6% increase for all fixed and variable water fees.

The increase will cost a typical homeowner about $2.73 cents a month.

Kevin Van Vliet is the City Utilities Services Manager.

“The other rate we're recommending would be $0.30 per cubic metre for the non-potable system regardless of what you’re using it to irrigate. So, if you're not a farm, if you're using it on your yard or perhaps you’re a commercial business irrigating, or perhaps a golf course, $0.30 per cubic metre regardless of how much volume used,” said Van Vliet.

Van Vliet said with the rate, they are trying to encourage people to use non-potable water for irrigation, as opposed to treated drinking water.

There's a good chance that farmers will be paying more too.

Council discussed an agricultural rate of $120 per acre, per year.

Councillor Mohini Singh was worried about increasing farmer’s rates by 20 percent.

“I know there are a couple of farms up for sale because of the fact that returns on fruit prices are so low. So, while I recognize it's not a lot of money, maybe $300 or $400, if you have 100 acres well then that's a lot more. I just think symbolically right now is not the time to raise water rates for agricultural customers,” said Singh.

Van Vliet assured her farmers are not required to pay the increased water bill until fall of 2021.

“So, we've committed to the farm community that they will only pay the bill once a year instead of every two months at the end of harvest after they have some of their revenues back,” said Van Vliet.

The city will seek input from the Agriculture Advisory Committee before finalizing the per acre fee.