The BC Municipal Water Survey 2016, undertaken by the Water Planning Lab at UBC’s School of Community and Regional Planning, provides an overview of water consumption and pricing, metering coverage, and conservation initiatives across British Columbia. The data are based on information collected from the 32% of BC local governments who responded to the survey.
Key Findings From the Survey
- Per capita water consumption and residential consumption have continued their downward trajectory, falling 18% and 12% respectively, relative to 2009 levels. Within the residential class, average consumption now sits at 312 litres per capita per day.
- Use of water meters in BC is still low relative to most other Canadian jurisdictions: an estimated 26% of water connections are metered, and 36% of single-family connections. The latest survey conducted by Environment Canada based on 2009 data reported metering coverage for single-family dwellings across the country of approximately 66%.
- Water prices in the province are highly variable and influenced by the use of volumetric rate structures, which typically follow the introduction of meters. Annual fees for water services ranged from $135 to $752, with an average cost of $381 for flat fee structures and $418 for volumetric rate structures.
- 80% of participating municipalities reported the use of educational measures to encourage water conservation, 73% reported the use of mandatory watering restrictions, and 58% reported the use of a leak-detection program.
This survey addresses a gap in information following the cancellation of the federal Municipal Water and Wastewater Survey, last undertaken by Environment Canada in 2011. Statistics Canada has since initiated the mandatory biennial Survey of Drinking Water Plants that will provide information about water consumption, treatment process, capital and O & M expenses, and raw water quality. The first data from the Survey of Drinking Water Plans is expected to be released in the spring of 2017.