New report highlights best practices for pricing municipal water services


Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission finds that well-designed water rates can motivate conservation, fund infrastructure, and protect water quality.

Municipal water and wastewater services are vital to public health, the economy, and the environment. These networks of infrastructure produce and deliver clean drinking water and remove and treat wastewater. But Canadians are some of the biggest water users in the world, and infrastructure deficits threaten both the quality and quantity of our clean water.

A new report from Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission aims to help municipalities tackle the complex challenges of operating their water systems in a sustainable manner.

By restructuring and raising water rates—with the help of water meters—utilities can connect water usage to the price users pay, thereby driving conservation, providing funding for much needed infrastructure, and helping to protect water sources. They can also be designed to be fair, ensuring water stays affordable for low-income households.

The report “Only the Pipes Should be Hidden: Best practices for pricing and improving municipal water and wastewater services” includes:
  • 5 case studies that highlight the progress Canadian municipalities have made in improving the sustainability of their systems. Featured are St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador; Montréal, Quebec; Ottawa, Ontario; The Battlefords, Saskatchewan; and Gibsons, British Columbia.
  • 10 best practices for designing and implementing water rates, drawn from experience across the country
  • 6 policy recommendations, including relying on water rates to recover full costs and encourage conservation
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