Letter: There are better options for sewage meter bill in Richmond

Dear Editor,

The mayor, council and city staff have admitted that our sewer usage is not “metered” as stated on our city utility bill, but is instead based on 90 per cent of our water usage. (In Delta and Surrey it’s 80 per cent.)

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In effect, we are being taxed for sewer usage when our outdoor water use rises in the summer months. Outdoor water use by residents goes into the soil, not the sewer system.

Upon reviewing just the sewer portion of the bill from the first quarter of this year to the third quarter, we discovered that our charges have quintupled, from $80.36 to $420.42. This is a $340.06 increase to our sewer tax in six months.

The increase in our water usage is to support our attempts to lessen our global impact by growing our own fruits and vegetables, and supplement our family’s budget. By calculating sewage usage from all water use, the city is double taxing those of us who use water outdoors.

They defend sewer rates as a “standard way of measuring it across the region,” and that trying to calculate the sewer rate any other way “could introduce enormous complexity into the billing system.”

I suggested to city staff that night, that if they simply took the sewer rate from the first quarter of the year, when there is little to no water use outdoors, and used that as the sewer rate prorated for the remainder of the year, they would be capturing the most accurate sewer use: a rate not influenced by outdoor water use that inflates our actual sewer usage. They agreed that it could be done this way, and it could be reviewed next fall.

 I would encourage all residents who use any outdoor water, to compare their sewer charges on their utility bills over this past year. If you have the same concerns, contact the mayor and council (MayorAndCouncillors@Richmond.ca) and request they adopt the recommendation stated above in a timely matter, and not just revisit “communication” regarding our bills.

Dawn Thomson


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