RISING West Vancouver water and sewer rates are projected to cost an extra $84 for the median single family household in 2013, following council approval of the new fees Monday.
Water and sewer rates are each slated to increase by eight per cent in 2013.
Sewer rates had been projected to increase by 10 per cent, but lower than expected fees charged by Metro Vancouver allowed for the more modest increase. A reduction in Metro Vancouver's bulk water prices also allowed for a reduction of the anticipated 12 per cent bump in water fees.
The district would be wise to stick with the higher rates planned for 2013 in order to insulate itself from the potentially high cost of future projects, according to Coun. Craig Cameron.
"We have big costs coming down the pike," Cameron said. "To me, it doesn't make sense to keep the rates artificially low."
The water utility fees are subject to some instability, according to district engineering business manager Luke Hillan.
"There is uncertainty associated with these projections and they are expected to increase in future years," Hillan wrote in the report submitted to council.
Several big projects may boost sewage rates within this decade, according to Hillan.
The district's share of the Lions Gate secondary wastewater treatment plant and renewal costs associated with repairing and replacing aging Metro Vancouver infrastructure are not factored in the 2013 budget.
Cameron said offering low 2013 rates means pushing a hefty tax burden to the near future.
Cameron moved a motion to keep the increases at 12 and 10 per cent for water and sewer. Coun. Mary-Ann Booth seconded the motion.
The motion was defeated and subsequent motions were passed with Cameron as the lone vote of dissent.
Water fees for the median single-family household in West Vancouver are expected to be $527 in 2013, an increase of $35 from 2012. The projected water utility fees for 2013 are almost double the 2007 rate of $267.
That uptick in fees is caused by investment in infrastructure, according to Hillan, who discussed the district's $20-million Eagle Lake membrane filtration system, which now provides half the district's water at lower rates than those offered by Metro Vancouver. The filtration system is expected to save the district approximately $1.9 million annually beginning in 2017.
"As we use more Eagle Lake water, we save more," said John McMahon, manager of roads and utilities for the district.
Potable water from Eagle Lake can be sent almost as far as Capilano River, according to McMahon.
The 2013 budget includes $50,000 for work at the Black Creek Diversion meant to increase water flow to Eagle Lake.
Aside from the investments in water metering and other infrastructure, the water utility generally functions on a pay-as-you-go basis, according to Hillan.
Metro Vancouver fees account for 52 per cent of sewer costs faced by the district. Those costs are scheduled to rise by 3.5 per cent each year between 2014 and 2017.
The median single-family household in the district faces a 2013 fee of $649, $49 more than last year.
Beginning in 2013, unpaid fees for water turn-ons and turnoffs will roll to next year's property taxes if they go unpaid.
The sewer utility is anticipating a reserve of $2.1 million at the end of 2012. That reserve is stored for emergency work and allows for smooth transitions in the event of sudden rate increases.
From 2006 to 2012, the average resident has reduced their water consumption by more than 150 litres a day, a drop council attributed to the 2007 introduction of water meters.
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