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Water utility rates - frequently asked questions

Below you will find answers to common Calgary utility rate questions, such as what factors determine Calgary water rates, how water services are funded, what are the reasons for increasing rates and how to save money on water bills.

What is The City of Calgary doing to recognize the economic downturn?

Given the downturn in the economy, The City of Calgary Water Utility brought forward options to provide rate relief for customers in 2017 and 2018 to City Council.

City Council approved the rate relief for water, wastewater and drainage (stormwater) on November 22, 2016. Below are the water, wastewater and drainage annual rate increase comparisons.

Previously approved
rate increases

Revised rate

2017 2018 2017 2018
Water 2.0% 2.0% 0% 0%
Wastewater 14.9% 14.2% 5.1% 4.9%
Drainage 19.1% 19.1% 7.4% 7.4%

How much are rates going up?

Effective January 1, 2017, a typical monthly residential water, wastewater and drainage bill of $111 (based on a 19 m3 usage for a household of three to four people) will increase by approximately $2.67 per month.

What is the rate increase used for?

Rates are increasing to pay for the investments needed to expand our largest wastewater treatment plant and upgrades to stormwater systems to manage heavy rainfall events.

What do the sewer (wastewater) usage rate and basic service charge pay for and how are they calculated?

The sewer (wastewater) basic service charge is a fixed charge and pays for wastewater collection pipes, wastewater treatment facilities and billing. The sewer (wastewater) usage rate pays for the costs to treat wastewater produced from flushing toilets and draining sinks and bathtubs.

The rate calculation takes into consideration that wastewater produced is estimated to be 90 per cent of water usage over a year reflecting that some water (e.g. outdoor watering) is not returned to the treatment plants. Your bill will reflect your water usage times this per cubic metre rate.

What does the drainage (stormwater) service charge pay for?

The City of Calgary is making significant capital investments to upgrade overland drainage service in older neighborhoods that are experiencing localized flooding due to extreme rain events.

Why are the drainage (stormwater) rates high?

The increased drainage service charge is used for improvements to stormwater drainage in older communities, continued work on flood recovery, storm pond cleaning and in order to continue to meet regulatory requirements.

How do Calgary’s rates compare to other cities?

Calgary’s water rates are in the middle of the pack compared with other Canadian cities. When it comes to water and wastewater treatment, it is important that Calgary continues to make the necessary investments to keep pace with growth, meet increasingly stringent regulations and maintain assets.

This protects public health by ensuring the continued delivery of clean drinking water and the safe treatment of wastewater. Underfunding the water system will undermine the overall performance and long term health of a water utility.

Are we investing our water rates wisely in Calgary?

Yes. The City of Calgary continues to invest in the water system to ensure that we are able to deliver high quality drinking water, treat our waste safely and protect the river – our source of drinking water.

The City of Calgary's water system has been internationally recognized as one of the best in the world. We are also ensuring that we stay in compliance with our financial targets to ensure the long-term financial health of the water utility.

Do my property taxes pay for this?

No. The utility is completely self funded through water rates and receives no support from property taxes.

What about citizens on a fixed income?

With over a million people counting on the water system we need to make decisions that ensure the continued delivery of high quality drinking water and safe treatment of wastewater for today and tomorrow.

Contact 211 or visit for assistance in finding community and social services that can help.

How can I save money on my bill?

When it comes to water, there are actions all of us can take to save money and conserve. Water conservation actions like fixing a leaky toilet, installing a low flow toilet and adopting outdoor water wise tips can save you hundreds of dollars a year.