Minimum water use change floated in South Glengarry

South Glengarry Corporate Services General Manager Lachlan McDonald explains a proposed minimum water use change for Glen Walter and Lancaster during a council meeting Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2018. It's meant to help those residents stung by massive township-imposed increases in their utility bill but McDonald said it would only help a few people who 'water their lawns.' (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

LANCASTER – A minimum water use change is being floated for Lancaster and Glen Walter as a way to help residents stung by huge increases in their municipal utility bill.

But in a report to council Aug. 7, Corporate Services General Manager Lachlan McDonald shared numbers with council, showing it might only help 15-20 per cent of users.

The idea to change the minimum use from 20 cubic meters (4,400 gallons) to 30 cubic meters (6,600 gallons) came after a meeting between McDonald, Deputy Mayor Frank Prevost and several residents from Glen Walter.

Glen Walter, Lancaster, Green Valley and Kennedy Redwood are also facing a huge spike in their bills this year – the hardest hit being Glen Walter and Lancaster with a 34-37 per cent increase.

If the minimum was raised, the township would still be okay financially because it doesn’t budget on overages. But the municipality would be foregoing extra money – $261 a year for each user than used 30 cubic meters instead of 20 – plus the extra load on its water plants.

“This is going to help 10-15 per cent of the people but we just increased the rates 34 per cent. It’s going to happen for the next two years so there should be more than enough (in the budget). I would be in favour of this to help to reduce the burden on some of these people,” Coun. Trevor Bougie said.

“This would help would help people who typically water their lawn. It’s not helping your single person household. You have to keep in mind that 65 per cent of people use the (current) minimum,” McDonald answered.

Mayor Ian McLeod was concerned that increasing the minimum use would put an extra load on already strained water plants like Glen Walter. He is worried the township could be “getting ourselves into a position” where it would have to build a new plant.

A report on the proposal will be coming back to council Sept. 17.