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Corporation of Delta passing on water rates to farmers at cost
Delta farmers won’t notice much of a rate increase in their water bills this year, as the Corporation of Delta will pass on the Greater Vancouver water rate at cost.
According to the 2013 Utility User Rates presented to council Monday (Jan. 14), water utilities will rise 1.7 per cent in Delta, with almost no increase for farmers.
Delta will offer their agricultural water meter low rate for the first 8,000 cubic metres per quarter at the 2013 Greater Vancouver Water District (GVWD) peak water purchase rate of $0.69 per cubic metre (the cost was $0.68 per cubic metre in 2012). After 8,000 cubic metres, the rate will rise to $1.18 per cubic metre from $1.16, while the quarterly minimum charge remains at $25 per quarter.
Coun. Ian Paton, who also sits on the Agricultural Committee for Metro Vancouver, said a couple of greenhouse growers complained about the new water rates but were not representative of farmers in general.
“We’re basically not even making a profit off it,” he said. “We’ve got to run the Corporation of Delta like a business. If you own a corner store and the guy drops off your supply of O’Henry candy bars for 68 cents, you’d be pretty stupid to sell them at 68 cents.”
Delta’s finance director Karl Preuss pointed out that water and sewer rates used to be at par only a few short years ago, but water has since nearly doubled in cost.
“This is probably one of the lowest increases we’ve seen from Metro Vancouver for water in some time because if I remember correctly last year the increase was 14 per cent,” he said.
Another bonus for Delta farmers is that most municipalities raise water rates after the first 125 cubic metres, but in Delta it’s set at 8,000 cubic metres, a level few farms ever surpass.
Paton said he has fought for years to have a rebate program for users of large amounts of potable water on farms, but without success.
“Nobody wants to help pay to support agriculture in Delta and yet we’re providing a recreational tourism kind of industry on weekends for everybody else that lives in Metro Vancouver.”
Due to health standards in food production, Delta farmers can no longer wash vegetables in their irrigation water from ditches, which means they use far more potable water than in previous years. That includes the water cows drink on dairy farms.
Paton said Delta farmers used to be able to take crops to a facility in Richmond for washing, grading and packaging, but it has since closed down.
Water rates for residential metered homes will go up to $0.85 per cubic metre for the first 125 cubic metres per quarter from $0.83 last year, and $1.18 per cubic metre above that level. Tsawwassen First Nation water rates will be the same.
The bulk water meter located at Highway 17 and Tsawwassen Drive North would be allowed an additional 125 cubic metres at the low rate per quarter as this meter is now servicing 74 residences. The metered water consumption rate for the first 9,250 cubic metres per quarter would be $0.85 and $1.18 thereafter. The quarterly minimum charge would remain at $25 per quarter.
These rates are still subject to final approval by Delta council in the 2013 budget.