Some Ottawa homeowners — mostly those who use little water — got an unpleasant surprise on their latest water bill, which now includes a flat fee for service for all users.
Diy13 / Getty Images/iStockphoto
More than two years after Ottawa decided to change the way it bills residents for water, the first bills of the new system have arrived.Some people are paying more and others pay less under the revised system. And those paying more — generally those who use the least water — are not happy.Now city officials have put out a memo to councillors defending the new system, calling it “more equitable” overall.Still the memo says residents have been calling in growing numbers.The new rates cover charges for the water supply, waste water and storm water, and took effect on April 1 — along with new billing system. On the same date, the 2019 rate increase of five per cent also took effect.The controversial part is that while there is a charge based on the amount of water a customer uses, there are also fixed-rate charges for equipment that are the same for everyone. The city reasons that it costs the same to supply equipment no matter how much water a household uses.However this raises costs for people who don’t use a lot of water, since they used to pay less for these costs (based on low consumption) but are now paying the same as everyone else.“The average single-family home that consumes 30 cubic meters every two months will see little to no change in their bill,” says the new statement from Wendy Stephanson, the city’s deputy treasurer.However, “households with lower consumption will see an increase in their bill. The fixed charge is more equitable to all users as most of the costs to operate and maintain the water and sewer systems do not vary with consumption.”The new system also divides bills into four “tiers” or price levels depending on how much you use. As a household uses more water, the price per cubic metre rises.People with questions can look up information at ottawa.ca or call the Revenue Customer Care line at email@example.com/TomSpears1