FAQs funding the water system

1. How does the CVRD pay for the Black Creek Oyster Bay water system?
The water system is paid for by local residents and businesses within the BCOB service area through parcel and frontage taxes and user fees (i.e. water rates).

2. Are there other sources of funding?
In the past, the CVRD received about $490,000 in grants to assist with funding the Oyster River ultraviolet (UV) water treatment plant. However, provincial and federal grant funding is becoming much less dependable. As a result, the CVRD is moving to a financial model that does not rely on external assistance.

3. Why are rates increasing?
Rates are increasing to pay for the maintenance and replacement of essential water infrastructure, especially pipe replacement, which is becoming a growing concern. The recent water rates review found that the water system loses 20 per cent of the water pumped through its pipes because of leaks. Investing in our infrastructure is an investment in our water supply and in our community.

4. What will the CVRD do with the revenues generated from increased rates?
By law, revenues collected from Black Creek-Oyster Bay water system customers can only be used to fund the system itself. The CVRD cannot use those funds for other purposes. Some of the money will be used to operate the water system, some will be used for immediate maintenance and infrastructure replacement, and some will be invested into a reserve fund to be used for infrastructure renewal over the coming years.

5. Why do we need to invest in our infrastructure now?
Unfortunately, the water assets are aging. Over 75 per cent of the water distribution pipe (29 km out of 38 km) is made of asbestos cement (AC), which is nearing the end of its useful life and needs to be replaced in the next 10-20 years. It is estimated this cost will be over $9 million. Not making this investment over the coming years will result in recurring main breaks and interrupted services, which will result in additional costs to the system and inconvenience to the user. 

6. Why do users have to pay for water services?
It is generally accepted that those who use services should pay for them. The analysis and recommendations that came out of the Black Creek-Oyster Bay water rates review will ensure the costs are split equitably amongst the customers.