Water rates are going to shoot up in 2024 for customers of the Pembina Valley Water Co-op (PVWC). The spike is part of a series of rate changes for the next five years, and look different than what the PVWC originally proposed to the Public Utilities Board (PUB).
According to the PVWC's application, rates would increase 6% in both 2023 and 2024, and 5% in 2025, 2026 and 2027.
"We were hopeful to maintain more of an even increase from year to year," said PVWC CEO Greg Archibald. However, he explained greater loan costs from 2023 to 2024 made it impossible. "In our application, we had said that at the income level, we could go negative for a couple of years before we came around, just to equalize the numbers."
The PUB disagreed, as it is against provincial policy to allow municipalities, including municipal-owned organizations like the PVWC, to run a deficit, noted Archibald. As a result, it came back with a revised scale through 2027. According to the PUB order, rates will go up 4% in 2023, jump 11.8% in 2024, and increase 2.6%, 2.7% and 2.8% in 2025 through 2027.
"We always have the option if, any time in the five year window, our situation changes significantly then we can go back to the Public Utilities Board and put a case in front of them for a different rate. We've tried not to do that over the number of years, but as changes happen, we do have that ability if we need it," explained Archibald.
According to a survey conducted by the PVWC, the average water costs in the area range from 80 cents to $1 per day, per person.
"If you think of an eleven per cent increase, it's still a very small amount in the big scheme of things because the water rates are a very good value today," noted Archibald. "This is what it costs to maintain the water treatments plants and the water operation."