Ponoka’s water rate hike now less

  • Mar. 2, 2011 7:00 p.m.

The increased cost for water levied by the City of Red Deer has been reduced on appeal.

Earlier this year the City of Red Deer had advised the Town of Ponoka, a member of the North Red Deer River Water Services Commission, that its cost for a cubic metre of water would increase 28 per cent on March 1 — to $2.18 from $1.70.

The cost charged by the town to residential consumers would have increased to $2.58 per cubic metre from $2.10.

“Since that time, they’ve reduced their original proposal from $2.18 to $1.92 per cubic metre,” explained Betty Quinlan, director of corporate services.

On Feb. 22 town council gave third reading to an amendment of its water utility rate schedule that increases the rate to residential customers to $2.32 per cubic metre or 10.5 per cent.

The town adds 40 cents to the price of water to pay the cost to operate the water system.

“We’re proposing to amend the bylaw from $2.58 per cubic metre to $2.32 to reflect the reduction the (City of Red Deer) has passed along to us,” Quinlan told council.

“The City of Red Deer has control over the price of the water to the commission,” Mayor Larry Henkelman said. Part of the reason Ponoka’s rate is going up is because the town’s consumption is going down. Among water commission members Lacombe and Ponoka counties, Lacombe, Blackfalds and Ponoka, only Blackfalds used more water in 2010 than it did in 2009.

Red Deer is also passing on increased costs due to improvements at its treatment plant, expanded capacity and capital improvements.

Coun. Rick Bonnett wondered why the City of Red Deer agreed to reduce the amount of the increase. “Was it just because we appealed it?”

CAO Brad Watson said the first rate increase proposal was based on preliminary budget estimates, in the meantime, the City of Red Deer had a more detailed picture of its costs.

Henkelman said the increase to the town will be $176,000 — down from the extra $300,000 first levied. “If we don’t raise our water rates we will be out a lot of money.”

Ponoka joined the regional water commission in 2004 after Alberta Environment would not allow the town to continue drawing from a depleted aquifer.