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Failing water meters behind new minimum water consumption rate in Chase

Chase water rate woes

An increase in water and sewer rates as well as a newly implemented minimum consumption rate has become a hot button issue for some Chase residents.

The last two Village of Chase council meetings have seen residents attending to bring forward their issues with the increased rates to elected officials.

Debbie Lovin, Chase finance manager, said the rate changes were necessary due to an ongoing problem with failing water meters.

“Because of these failing meters, the bylaw didn't have any safeguards for billing purposes. So those who had no meter readings were being charged nothing for their water consumption,” Lovin said.

The water consumption rates were raised in a bylaw which came into effect in October. The previous rate of 70 cents per cubic meter was increased to 98 cents per cubic meter.

However the part of the bylaw that appears to have upset some residents is the addition of the new minimum consumption rate.

“We set the minimum consumption at 60 cubic meters,” Lovin explaned. “That was based on the average of all the households over 12 months that had meter readings.”

According to Lovin, the previous system wasn’t sustainable over the long term.

“The water system itself has been running a deficit for quite a few years,” Lovin said. “It's been running about a $200,000 deficit for at least over eight years.”

Chase has been working on getting the broken water meters fixed, but hasn’t seen much progress.

“Right now, our public works are visiting houses but because of the large backlog it's just been compounding,” Lovin said. “You get three fixed, and three fail.”

“There's essentially two guys who are able to do that thing. So there is kind of that question, do we bite the bullet and bring in contractors and spend a lot of money to get them all done at once? And then will that give us enough data to reevaluate the rates?”

There are several options to consider, Lovin said.

“Or do we go to the next stage of technology and get meters that people can see in the cloud, basically, what their water usage is? ...Those are kind of the questions right now that we don't have those answers to.”

Council is having a budget open house on March 6, and water and sewer rates will be a topic of discussion.

The budget open house will take place at Chase Community Hall on March 6, at 6:30 p.m.

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