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Water utility rates - frequently asked questions

Below you will find answers to common questions about how The City of Calgary sets water rates and service charges.

Does the Water Utility profit from my rates and charges?

The water utility does not profit from rate and service charge adjustments. Utility rates and service charges are set at the lowest amount possible to deliver current services, and provide enough funding to expand, upgrade, maintain and repair our water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure.

The water, wastewater and stormwater services are entirely funded by rates paid by customers. The water utility does not receive any funding from property taxes.

How does The City of Calgary sets rates and service charges?

Based on usage patterns, we divide customers into groups such as residential, business and multi-family. Your rates and service charges reflect the actual cost to provide your customer group with water, wastewater and stormwater services.

Rates and service charges are set at the lowest level possible to cover the actual cost of providing your water, wastewater and stormwater services and the required maintenance and upgrades to the system.

Every four years, The City undertakes a cost of service study to ensure planned rates are fair and equitable, and can provide the funding to deliver clean, safe water and reliable service for years to come.

Each year those proposed rates are reviewed, and adjustments made, to ensure they continue to cover costs and meet the needs of Calgary. Wherever possible savings are also applied, and proposed rates reduced.

How does The City take into account the current economic environment?

The Water Utility made adjustments to the proposed rates for 2020 to strike a balance between the challenging economic environment and required investments in the water system. If rates are not adjusted we would not be able to:

  • Meet the needs of a growing population
  • Maintain and upgrade existing infrastructure, extending the life of our two water treatment and three wastewater treatment plants
  • Invest in new infrastructure to deliver water, take away wastewater and collect stormwater in new communities
  • Meet regulatory requirements regarding water and wastewater quality
  • Upgrade stormwater infrastructure in older communities to address the effects of our changing climate
  • Invest in flood mitigation projects across the city, such as barriers and upgrades to stormwater infrastructure

How do Calgary's rates compare to other cities?

While it is hard to compare cities, since each takes a different financial approach to taxes and utility costs, Calgary is generally in the middle of the pack compared with other Canadian municipalities.

The graphic below shows the average yearly cost of taxes and utilities, including electricity, water, wastewater, stormwater and waste & recycling services, for cities across Canada.

Calgary Comparison Water Utility Rates

*Utility numbers were collected or calculated under these assumptions.

  • “Typical” month consisting of 30 days
  • 600 KW/H usage of electricity
  • 19 cubic meters of water and 17.5 cubic meters of wastewater treatment
  • Other charges on a per-residential dwelling – recycling fee, garbage disposal, and other

What is happening to rates across major cities?

Rates and the price of water are going up across North America. A recent study of large North American cities found that water rates were increasing approximately six percent per year.

Even with the increase to Calgary’s water rates we will continue to pay less than a penny a litre for water and wastewater service.

Do my property taxes pay for water services?

No. Utility services are completely self-funded through water rates and service charges. There is no support from property taxes.