Capital Regional District move to limit access to water may drive up the price of potable water delivery to West Shore residents who rely on the service.
South Island Water Ltd. co-owner Teresa Hall said her costs for filling up her delivery truck and delivering the water are going up, forcing her to increase the cost to customers. She estimates a delivery, which for an average house will last about a month, could go up by $50.
Hall said that last July, the CRD shut down some standpipes the company used as access to potable water, including standpipes in Metchosin and Langford. The access the company now has is quite far away from certain delivery areas, increasing the cost to deliver.
“They said ‘Increase your rates,’ and we said, ‘No, that’s not fair to the customers,’” Hall said. “They pay taxes. This water is for everyone.”
Among the company’s 600-odd customers are many residents in Metchosin and Highlands, along with residents in Sooke and nearby areas. The company is the sole water provider for South Island.
“These people need this water. It’s not like it’s a luxury, it’s a necessity,” Hall said. “This is not just for us to make more money, if that was the case we would just raise our prices.”
Hall will be requesting greater access to water at a commission meeting next Tuesday, Jan. 7.
Juan de Fuca Regional Director Mike Hicks was at the water commission meeting where the CRD gave a verbal report on the issue.
“I spoke strongly against their suggestion, and in favour of South Island Water,” said Hicks. “I want a full debate at the next meeting.
“We have more than 600 families dependent on water, that’s more than the population of the Highlands.”
The CRD has concerns, Hicks said, and one of them is about how much water the providers are taking. He said South Island Water can put meters on their trucks and they could deal with all of the concerns Juan de Fuca water would have.
“We want to be able to provide potable water to rural areas… as close to the market as possible and be as affordable as we can,” said Hicks.
Juan de Fuca Water Distribution Commission chair and Metchosin Coun. Bob Gramigna said the commission’s concerns stem from the fact the issue deals with a private business.
“Will we be spending ratepayer money for private businesses?” Gramigna said. “The distribution area is not the entire municipality.”
The water commission will meet on Tuesday at 479 Island Highway at noon to discuss the issue.
– With files from Pirjo Raits