On Monday, the City of Nelson, B.C. approved updates to its 2007 Water Master Plan and agreed to the final adoption of the 2018 Water Sewer rates in the Fees and Charges Bylaw during a regular city council meeting.

Since 2007, Nelson has been able to achieve a 30 per cent reduction in water consumption per person; the daily summer maximum use per person has been reduced from almost 2,000 liters per day to less than 750 liters per day. This reduction is the result of upgrades and repairs to the city’s aging underground infrastructure, including the replacement of corroded and leaking galvanized pipes throughout the city and removal of irrigation for parks from the city’s treated water supply.

Trend in water consumption for Nelson, B.C. The city projects a 660 Litre per capita per day consumption rate in 2066. Credit: City of Nelson

“Consistent, long-term access to clean water is a main priority for this Council,” said Mayor Deb Kozak. “The combination of infrastructure renewal and conservation measures has resulted in our community reducing our water consumption by 40 per cent from what it was only 20 years ago. We should all be proud of this achievement.”

Along with these actions, the city promoted water conservation through a targeted campaign starting in 2015, which saw a high level of buy-in from residents. The 2017 Water Master Plan (WMP) recognized the significant achievements the city realized in upgrading and improving its water system and provides direction that will guide future improvements. Highlights from the updated 2017 WMP include the renewal of the main water source at Five Mile Creek, the proposed development of secondary water sources, and the development of an emergency source/secondary source from Kootenay Lake.

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The city reviews the long-term operating and capital plan for the water and sewer utilities each year in order to ensure that rates are set at a level which are sufficient to fund annual operating costs, capital expenditures, and provide adequate funds for future capital projects related to water and wastewater infrastructure. Council reviewed the current year projected results and the forecasted operational and capital requirements and approved an annual rate increase of 2 per cent for water and 1.5 per cent for sewer.

“Our water and sewer utilities are based on a fee for service model,” said Colin McClure, chief financial officer for Nelson. “It is important that residents understand that the rates charged for water and sewer pay are only used for these purposes. Nelson is one of the few communities in Canada where the water and sewer rates are able to sufficiently fund both projected capital upgrades and build the necessary reserves to maintain our infrastructure.”

Visit the city’s website for more details on the update Water Master Plan.

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