Water and sewage hikes in the offing

Both water and sewer rates in Kelowna will rise to accommodate increased operating costs and to fund future capital replacement projects.

Both water and sewer rates in Kelowna will rise in dribs and drabs to accommodate increased operating costs and to fund future capital replacement projects.

Engineering chief John Vos told council Monday, that the typical homeowner will pay an extra 59 cents a month for water and an extra 38 cents a month in sewer charges, with rate hikes pegged at four per cent over two years.

The cost, he explained, is relatively low as there are some significant bills coming down the pipe.  The city’s water system will need $43 million worth of upgrades in the next two decades.

Part of that is because the city is still replacing some original cast iron pipes that were put down when the utility was established a century ago.

Even more is due to a need to replace all the residential and commercial water meters that were installed in the 1990s.

Concurrently, the waste water system will need a $76 million investment. Although nobody likes the idea of rising rates, said Coun. Gail Given, the increases on the table will take the sting out of what could otherwise amount to a massive bill.

“What’s really important is that this equalizes payments so they won’t see massive (hikes),” said Coun. Gail Given.

“Predicting the needs and spreading a small amount over a long time … this is better than the alternative.”

A typical Kelowna home that uses an average of 41 cubic metres a month would be billed about $43 a month.

The charge for comparable usage is about $90 in Vernon and $80 in Kamloops.

Kelowna Capital News