By Dana Mears
Special to the Cochrane Eagle
To get a better understanding of our bills, let’s breakdown the water rate tier structure, explain the changes, and explore ways to reduce our water consumption.
To begin, all residents, no matter their consumption, will notice a minor $1.21 increase in the 2020 base rate to $7.65.
The average household in Cochrane, which uses approximately 11-12 cubic metres (m3) of water a month, should not notice much more of an increase in their water utility bills.
In the New Year, those using between 0-15m3 of water will continue to be charged $1.22/ m3, as this rate has not increased. What has changed for the first tier however, is the upper threshold of water consumption, which was reduced from 25 m3 to 15 m3.
Homes that fall within our second tier (any consumption between 15-30 m3), will now be charged $1.72/m3. This is a 5 per cent increase in the rate and a further reduction to the 2019 tier volumes of 25-60 m3.
Homes that fall within our third tier (any consumption above 30 m3), will now be charged $2.54/m3. This again represents a 5 per cent increase in the rate and a modification to the 2019 tier volumes for total consumption greater than 60 m3.
Here’s an example to help explain how the structure is applied. If your home used 35 m3 in a month; you will be charged $1.22/m3 for the first 15m3, then charged 1.72/m3 for the next 15m3. As you enter the third tier, your home will be charged $2.54/m3 for the remaining 5 m3 to reach the 35 m3 of water consumed. Finally, as noted earlier, the base rate of $7.65 is added to total $64.45.
In this scenario, if the household were to reduce its water usage by only five cubic meters, their water bill would be reduced to $51.75.
Things you can do to be sure water is not a drain on your wallet include checking your taps and toilets for leaks. These sneaky water consumption culprits can add up. Rebates for high-efficiency toilets and washing machines are also available through the town. Finally, town staff are available to residents to assist in reducing their monthly water use, including assistance with tracking down those possible leaks.
Collectively, reducing our overall water use as a community will help to defer future infrastructure costs, such as a new water treatment plant and acquiring an additional water license to meet future growth.
Dana Mears is Cochrane's environmental educator