Letter: Sewer charges unfair to gardeners

Find more equitable way to assess sewer use instead of penalizing those who water gardens

As gardening season approaches and warmer weather draws nigh, the dreaded charge to support the sewer utility also approaches.

Apparently Oak Bay council believes that every litre of water delivered equals a litre of water discharged to the sewers. That’s probably close to being accurate for sanitary sewage, i.e., only for the water used within a residence, and is constant throughout the year.

But not all water delivered to a property is used within the residence; the remainder is used for irrigation, discharging into neither the sanitary nor the storm sewer.  So the total volume of sewage that can be attributed to any household really changes little during the year.

In winter, rainfall contributes to storm sewage volume, but to attribute any change of volume to householder behavior requires a stretch of logic.

So if those who don’t irrigate are charged only by volume of metered water, and those who do irrigate, and don’t contribute to storm sewer demand either, then kiting up the sewer charge to irrigators based on water volume delivered is unfair and discriminatory, and a subsidy to those who don’t irrigate.  That’s what Oak Bay does. It’s lazy, and it has to stop.

Other municipalities understand this matter, and charge for sewers base on the lowest quarterly use of water. That method covers both sanitary and storm sewers, and is revenue neutral to the municipality.

I assume that the billing is computerized; if so, the correct way of billing for sewers would be easy to effect. Otherwise, a simple frontage charge would be fairer than the present system.

Those who irrigate the urban canopy we all prize, the flowers we all enjoy and the vegetables and fruit this group grows, lawns too, contribute much to the ambience all of us in Oak Bay treasure. We shouldn’t be penalized for doing so.

Those readers who, as I do, want this change made may email Oak Bay councillors at obcouncil@oakbay.ca to register their point of view.

Please bear in mind that this letter refers to single-family dwellings. Apartment buildings and commercial properties present different issues.

Bob Gubbe

Oak Bay