I am really getting frustrated: because of  the complexity of our water rate charging system, few people actually understand how it works. As you all may have noticed, I have put a lot of time into figuring it out and trying to relay that information – to the community in general, as well as to the people who make decisions on our behalf.

Graphically, it is very simple: whichever user’s line is the highest is the one who is paying most. If the tables and complicated examples of this and that are too much to deal with, just look at the graph.  That is why I bothered to graph it out (it is pasted again at the bottom of this post).  Whichever user’s line is the highest is the one who is paying most.

There is an article in the most recent Westerly which provides more complicated, and in places misleading, information and calculations from our district.  There is no point in calculating examples of what people would pay if the examples used are not very realistic.

First, it does the calculation of what a hotel would pay using the example of a “one-room hotel”.  As I have posted several times previously, this is a meaningless example.  Any example calculation presented to the public to show how something works should be realistic: in this case, we should calculate our example based upon what a real hotel, with several rooms, would pay.  It is bizarre (and, I think, unfair) that this one commercial class gets its rate divided by the amount of customers it serves (restaurants and fish plants and surf shops don’t – they just pay their bulk commercial rate).

Second, the example in the article takes a sample usage of <25m3 of water.  This is the only volume where residents actually do pay a lower rate than commercial usage.  However, most users (whether residential or commercial) would go above that usage tier per quarter (in the article it says “ the average volume a residential consumer uses is less than 50 cubic metres of water per quarter”) – especially over summer.

So, if you want to see a similar calculation but for a more realistic usage level, let’s take the examples of 50m3, and 80m3, and 100m3.  I’ve reviewed several years of bills from my old house on Howard Drive – it had two separate 2br suites, with usually either 4 or 5 people living in the whole house, and our total water usage fluctuated anywhere from about 40m3 to 85 m3 per quarter – so the examples I use here of 50, 80 and 100m3 range are more realistic than the 25m3 example used by the newspaper. If you are sick of stupid calculations, just skip to the table that gives the results, below – I am just putting the calculations here because I don’t want people to think that I am talking crap. These water bills are calculated using the new water rates that council just approved (retroactive to last April, actually) – you can see those rates in their table form here (or in my graph of those same rates below).  I used the summer rates for these calculations – but the relative differences between users would be pretty much the same if I had used winter rates.

Here is what your actual bills would be:

0-25m3 @$1.80 = $45
25-35m3 @ $2.20 = $22.00
35-45m3 @ $2.60 = $26.00
45-50m3 @ $2.80 = $14.00 (so total to here for 50m3 is $107)
50-60m3 @ $2.80 = $28.00
60-80m3 @ $3.10 – $62.00 (total here for 50m3 is $197)
80-100m3 @ $3.10 = $62.00 (so total to here for 100m3 is $259)

0-50m3 @ $2.20 = $110
0-80m3 @ $2.20 = $176
0-100m3 @ $2.20 = $220

3-room hotel
0-45m3 @ $2.20 = $99
45-50m3 @ $2.50 = $15 (so total to here for 50m3 is $114)
50-60m3 @ $2.50 = $25.00
60-80m3 @ $2.70 = $54.00 (so total to here for 80m3 is $193)
80-90m3 @ $2.70 = $27.00
90-100m3 @ $2.90 = $29.00 (so total to here for 100m3 is $249)

Any hotel with 7 rooms or more
0-50m3 @ $2.20 = $110
50-80m3 @ $2.20 = $66 (so toal to here for 80m3 is $176)
80-100m3 @ $2.20 = $44 (so total to here for 100m3 is $220)

Fish processing plant
0-50m3 @ $2.00 = $100
0-80m3 @ $2.00 = $160
0-100m3 @ $2.00 = $200

water bill calculations
I don’t know how many different ways I have to present this information for people to understand.  (Can you tell I am getting frustrated?)  I have presented the graph showing what the rates are (several times now).  Now here are the results of those new rates – what your real water  bill would actually be. As I have said, residents pay more. If I spent the time to continue to calculate this table out at even usage higher volumes (beyond what residents would ever use), what you would find is that the Restaurant/Commercial bills get even higher, and that the biggest resorts (50+ rooms) and the fish plants pay the lowest.

If there is a reason that the billing is intentionally weighted this way, then fine – hopefully our decision-makers will explain that to us.  But I suspect that they don’t even realize it – this thing has just been tabled out and voted in very quickly – and that is why I am doing my best to present this information so that everyone understands it.  Once we understand it, I think the proper process is to discuss it and then make some decisions about whether or not it is the best and fairest way to bill for our water.

My main frustration with this whole process is that the rate system is so complicated that most people do not understand it.  I do have a strong sciences background and I am good with numbers and graphs…  and, as you may realize from this website, I am putting in a real lot of (unpaid) time in trying to bring this information out to both our community members and our decision-makers.  For how can anyone make good decisions without complete and accurate information?

New water rates (summer rates shown)

New water rates (summer rates shown)