Why Water Prices are Going Up and What to Do About It
The average household in Canada pays around $53 a month for water. The way water costs are calculated in Canada will vary on multiple factors like location, amount of water used, flat rates, and fees. There are multiple fees associated with water rates: utility bill fees, automated meter reading fees, water fees, wastewater fees, and property tax fees.
However, these aren’t the only factors that contribute to the rise of water costs. Throughout this article, you will find how other factors, such as infrastructure and climate change, can play a role in the total cost Canadian residents pay for their water utility bill.
Even though every province has its average, the residents of each can agree that the costs are continuing to rise, making it more difficult to afford. Listed below are a few Canadian provinces and the average monthly price of water per residential household in that area:
Studies on Canadian water conservation found that “cities in Alberta and Saskatchewan tend to have the most expensive water in the country. Calgary and Regina, for example, have the second and third highest prices among the 93 cities surveyed.”
This may be because the water quality in Alberta and Saskatchewan is lower compared to other provinces. As a result of this low-quality water, the government is required to utilize more resources to take care of the water and make it potable enough for citizens to use. The more care that goes into water preservation, the more it will cost.
It’s no secret that the growing water costs are becoming less affordable for low-income families. But what isn’t obvious is why these costs continue to rise.
Cities that continue to use outdated infrastructure to source their water supply are more susceptible to increased utility costs. This is partly because some of the pipes they are using are more than a century old — which is problematic because most pipes have a lifespan of 70 to 120 years. The older the infrastructure, the more chances they’ll need frequent repairs.
With an average cost of $862 to repair one water pipe, the city has no other choice than to increase monthly household water bills to compensate for the repairs of infrastructure city-wide.
In some regions where drought is far too common, the cost of water increases because of the high-demand and low-supply. Droughts not only hurt household water supply but also severely impact agriculture and animal life as well.
Severe storms and weather events, like flooding, tend to play an opposite role in terms of water supply, but still can have a negative outcome. While flooding may supply an overabundance of water, the quality of the water in question is severely low. According to the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, “flooding of industrial areas or agricultural chemical storage locations can cause chemicals to move into nearby watersheds, also degrading water quality and even contaminating some residential areas. Low water levels due to drought can also contribute to deteriorated water quality.”
Reduction of Water Usage
A single household may not be able to make an impact on the water cost for an entire city, but they can take preventative measures to reduce the cost of their bill. Here are a few ways households of any size can reduce water usage at home:
- Heat your water on the stovetop instead of waiting for the faucet to heat it;
- Install low-flow showerheads;
- Limit shower times;
- Make minor repairs to leaky faucets and showerheads as soon as possible;
- Refrain from watering your lawn during the hottest time of the day. Instead, water it early in the morning or late at night;
- Wait to run the laundry and dishes until the load is full.
Even home improvement measures, like investing in a new water softener, could make a positive difference. If this is the route you decide to take, it is essential to understand water softener capacity and how to properly fit and size the water softener to get the right unit to benefit your household.
Various programs and organizations offer assistance to families who continue to struggle to pay their water bills. Those in need are encouraged to seek assistance from their local government offices — for each city will have its own rules and regulations on who qualifies and how to apply. In the meantime, prospecting applicants can refer to the resources below for a place to start:
- 211 Ontario;
- Alberta Seniors;
- Alectra Utility Payment Assistance;
- Bissell Centre;
- Calgary Urban Project Society (CUPS);
- Canadian Red Cross (only available in Calgary);
- Good Neighbor Fund;
- Halifax Water Assistance Programs;
- Project Share Utility Grant Program;
- Region of Waterloo Utility Bill Help;
- Toronto Property Tax, Water, and Solid Waste Relief Programs.
You can do your part in reducing the monthly water costs within your household by educating yourself on the different ways to consume water such as the methods mentioned above. If doing so still leaves you unable to pay for the bill, don’t hesitate to reach out to your local water and sewer company or local government to find ways to help.