Kamloops households can expect a $16 hike in water and sewer utility rates next year, as the City of Kamloops sees large cost increases for the materials used to provide these services.
On Tuesday, Sept. 20, city council approved a 1 per cent rate increase for water and a 2.5 per cent increase for sewer in 2023, which works out to a $16 increase for the average residential home.
Greg Wightman, utilities services manager for the City of Kamloops, told council water and sewer utilities function as self-funded business units.
“Only revenue generated within each utility may be spent on that utility. And that becomes the operating capital budgets that support the ongoing safe operation of these crucial utilities,” Wightman said.
Wightman said staff are recommending a 1 per cent rate increase for water in 2023, and a 2 per cent increase each year thereafter, from 2024 to 2027.
“The change year to year there will be $4 per year to 2023. And then about $8 a year for the remaining years,” Wightman said.
Wightman said this is to ensure the utility remains financially sustainable under increased cost pressures.
“The past two years have seen unprecedented cost increases as a result of pandemic related issues. A good example of that would be PVC pipe, which has increased nearly 200 per cent,” Wightman said.
“Those price increases have depleted what was a strong financial reserve despite our best efforts to minimize the impact.”
Wightman reviewed major water utility capital projects that kicked off in 2022, including installing a new reservoir in Valleyview, replacing water mains in four areas, and signing a water treatment membrane replacement agreement.
Wightman said the city has seen “unprecedented” success in extending the life of water treatment membranes.
“The supplier is actually hoping that we will make presentations on what we've been able to do,” Wightman said.
Wightman said staff are recommending a 2.5 per cent increase in sewer utility rates for 2023 and a 2.5 per cent increase in rates each year thereafter, until 2027.
He said the sewer utility was historically underfunded, but recent council support for some higher rate increases in past years resulted in the utility coming into a financially sustainable state.
“The financial stability of the sewer utility has resulted in recommendations for modest, yet consistent rate increases that will support the key functions of the utility,” Wightman said.
He noted the cost of materials used for the sewer system has also increased, including the cost of chemicals used in wastewater treatment, which rose 40 per cent in the past year.
Wightman said major capital projects associated with this utility include a sewer main upgrade on Fourth Avenue, sewer lift station upgrades on McQueen Drive and at Riverside Park, and the. Lorne Street sewer force main replacement.