The BC Water & Waste Association (BCWWA) has released a report stating that communities in British Columbia will need at least $13 billion in additional investments to replace existing water and wastewater systems in the province. The report—Are Our Water Systems at Risk?—was carried out by BCWWA and Urban Systems, and assesses the financial capacity of municipalities in British Columbia to maintain, renew, and replace water infrastructure.
The report offered four points of concern about the financial sustainability of B.C.’s systems:
– Water and sewer fees are not covering the full cost of service delivery in many communities. In the worst cases, rates would need to nearly double in order to reach financial sustainability.
– Many communities are vulnerable, as they have not set aside sufficient reserves to buffer against unexpected changes in operating costs or revenues.
– Smaller communities have greater financial gaps than larger communities, as costs are shared across a small base of users.
– $13 billion of additional investment will be required in British Columbia to renew and replace water and wastewater infrastructure when it comes to the end of its useful life.
To combat these points of concern, the report offers some steps communities can pursue to strengthen their financial ability to meet current and future water system needs, including adjusting rates to cover full service costs; developing and implementing asset management processes; ranking water and wastewater system renewal as top priorities for capital investment; adopting “smart growth” principles; and fostering collaboration among all levels of government to support communities to become financially self-reliant.
For more on the BCWWA’s report, check out Water Canada’s March/April 2015 issue!