Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Some questions from the Watson report

(Click on images for full size)

The Water Infrastructure Renewal Needs Report was completed in 2002. By coincidence, $7.2 million happens to be the amount that WUC borrowed last year for capital funding instead of a rate increase. Why didn't Council enact a rate increase, at the very least, beginning last year?
The chart below, taken from the WUC brochure, shows rate increases in 2002, 2003 and 2004, then nothing. Why did the increases stop? We know that at least $7.2 million per year was needed and the rates were not even providing that much.

Are the development charges actually being passed on to WUC ? I just find it curious to see the
report say "The WUC should also ensure funds generated via DC's are brought back to the WUC to avoid having to finance these works via water rate revenues to any large extent".

The WUC brochure identifies the cost installing new pipe at $500 per metre. Is the $574 per per single family home enough or are our Development charges too low?

Above are the projected rates out to 2016 based on either the Low Debt option, or High Debt option. Notice that next year the fixed rate dips by 22 cents, but the volume rate goes up. What would the effect have been if we continued volume rate increases at a steady rate over the last three years?

At the end of 2016 our volume rate will still be lower than any other volume rate in the Province that I've been able to find to date. The next closest is Durham Region at 56 cents. The average was around 80 cents to $1.10 .

This is important in two ways. First, for those that wish to save money, our current reliance on high fixed charges and levies makes it impossible to reduce your bill in any meaningful way.

Secondly, when the WUC tries to implement conservation programs in the future, they might as well just hand out money to customers. For example, if a rebate program was offered to cover half the cost of installing low-flow shower heads, what is my incentive to spend the money and receive the rebate when my savings will amount to approximately 50 cents per month? None.

To make matters worse, the seasonal levy is applied from May to October. Your average usage is figured out over the November to April period. Let's say it's 24 cubic meters. If you use any more than your average 24 cubic meters in the May to October period, a seasonal rate of 24.9 cents per cubic meter is charged on the additional usage. Hopefully you don't try to conserve any water from November to April, because a 3 cubic meter per month reduction in your usage during that period would end up costing you more in the "summer" season. With your average now at 21 cubic meters, any usage above that amount will incur the seasonal charge.

I have a few other questions, but they will require much more in-depth research. As well, I've yet to wade into the various appendices. (299 pages of reading fun!)