The combination of a favorable exchange rate and much smaller increases in water cost might not lead to a decrease in water rates, but it will likely save consumers from another increase.
“We’ll have the rate survey looked at again but I doubt we’ll see an increase in 2016,” said water district manager Dan Bourks.
At their October 13 meeting, Bourks told commissioners the district had spent about $200,000 less on water in 2015. “The exchange rate is a big impact,” Bourks said.
At the beginning of 2014, the U.S. and Canadian currencies were at par, and today the rate hovers around 1.3 Canadian dollars to one U.S. dollar.
In addition, while in previous years the Greater Vancouver Water District was imposing as much as an 8 percent annual increase for the wholesale cost of water, the increase for 2016 is only 1.6 percent.
“Increases are decreasing dramatically,” Bourks said.
While a rate study is planned for 2016, Bourks said the district would continue to plan for the currencies at par and use any surplus in the water budget to fund depreciation of the water system, planning for the replacement of aging infrastructure.
“We never funded depreciation in the past and we were trying to build that slowly to not shock everyone,” he said.
“The board decided a few years ago we were planning at par and the rates will do what they do. We don’t have a crystal ball.”