Residents to see water, sewer rate hike | DrumhellerMail
Last updateTue, 21 May 2024 12am

Residents to see water, sewer rate hike

The Town of Drumheller is upping water and wastewater utility rates to reflect a total cost recovery model. Last year the town restructured the way it collected water and sewer rates. For residential customers, they were charged a flat rate of $10 each for water and sewer, plus $1.0042 per cubic metre usage of water, and $1.0512 per cubic metre for wastewater, billed at 80 per cent of usage. Under the new rate structure, water jumps to $1.5052 per cubic metre, and wastewater rates are up to 1.3746, billed at 80 per cent of usage. There is also a rate ride of .1001 for wastewater to recover deficit from last year. “The rates we have here are intended to give us full cost recovery,” said Drumheller CAO Ray Romanetz.He explains water rates in Drumheller have never fully reflected the full cost of treatment and delivery. When the new water structure was implemented, he said council moved that water rates over the next three years are to reflect a full cost recovery model. “The intention was to move part of the way in 2008, move all the way in 2009 and then we were going to make up the shortfalls in the following year,” said Romanetz. He says the shortfall was made up this year through general revenue and through a new rider. According to a release from the Town of Drumheller in 2008, the water utility in Drumheller had a deficit of $787,669, while the wastewater side had a deficit of $94,964.These deficits, according to the town were due to higher treatment costs, unexpected maintenance costs and a wet summer that contributed to lower water consumption rates.“Whether it was a wet summer, or people were concerned with rates, or they were moving towards conservation, what happened was the amount of water used was down dramatically. If the usage goes down, then the rate per unit has to go up to give us that same base unit amount.”Corporate services director Michael Roy says conservation, however, will still save in the long run. “If the volume of water used goes down, the cost associated with treating goes down because we don’t have to treat as much, and that extends the capacity of our plant,” said Roy. He adds that in this year’s Town of Drumheller budget they have introduced a low flow toilet rebate for residents to encourage even more conservation. “Some details should be coming in the next little while. There are other initiatives being looked at, but this one is being looked at in this year's budget,” said Roy. The rebate will be in an area of $50-60 per toilet.Some residents who made a concerted effort to curb their usage when the water rate structure changed feel they are being penalized by the new rate. “There are all sorts of articles in magazines and papers telling us we are to conserve water. Why then, when we in Drumheller do that, we get penalized and have to pay more for water?” asks Shirley Komarnisky in a letter to the editor.The new rates are not to make up the deficit. The deficit on the water utility side has been transferred from the Town’s accumulated surplus, while the wastewater portion will be made up through a rate rider .1001 which is expected to be on the books for the next year.For a resident who uses about 15 cubic metres of water, a bill of approximately $48 will now be close to about $60.“We as council are concerned about any increase, but we know that we can not lose money on services,” said Mayor Bryce Nimmo. “The increase is based on water consumption only as we did not increase the base rate. Council has approved a rate that will better serve the residents and the Town of Drumheller in the long run.”

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