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Ecofiscal Commission urges municipalities to make users pay for water services

Published 26 September 2017

Canada's Ecofiscal Commission has asked the municipalities to make their users pay for the water services, in a recently released report, Only the Pipes Should be Hidden: Best practices for pricing and improving municipal water and wastewater services.

Municipal water and wastewater services are vital to our health, the economy, and the environment. These networks of infrastructure produce and deliver clean drinking water and remove and treat wastewater.

Yet there are hidden problems in many municipalities: Canadians are some of the biggest water users in the world, and our infrastructure deficits threaten both the quality and quantity of our clean water.

Changing the way we pay for water services can enable us to address all of these problems. By restructuring and raising water rates -- with the help of water meters -- utilities can connect water usage to the price users pay, thereby driving conservation, providing funding for much needed infrastructure, and helping to protect our water sources. They can also be designed to be fair, ensuring water stays affordable for low-income households.

Some Canadian municipalities are leading the way. Their efforts to design better water rates illustrate the best practices that can help other municipalities improve their own systems.

Only the Pipes Should be Hidden helps municipalities tackle the complex challenges of operating their water systems in a sustainable manner. The report includes:

5 case studies that highlight the progress Canadian municipalities have made in improving the sustainability of their systems. Featured are St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador; Montréal, Quebec; Ottawa, Ontario; The Battlefords, Saskatchewan; and Gibsons, British Columbia.

10 best practices for designing and implementing water rates, drawn from experience across the country

6 policy recommendations, including relying on water rates to recover full costs and encourage conservation

Source: Company Press Release