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New in 2023! North Cowichan property owners will now receive a new utility bill in their mailboxes three times each year in May, September, and January.
Sewer and Water utilities are funded through a parcel tax and a user fee each year. A parcel tax is one amount that is charged to each property that is capable of being connected to a service, typically is used to pay for infrastructure (pipes) and is applied with annual property taxes. A user fee is charged to those who use a service and is typically used to pay for the operating costs of a service (maintenance and upkeep) and is billed through utility bills (3 times per year).
User fees for utilities - water, sewer, and curbside collection - are being removed from the annual property tax bill and changed to this more common billing model.
It is important to note:
- the fees on the utility bill are not new or additional fees – it is the user fees previously billed for on property tax notices
- property tax bills, which are mailed in late May each year, will have fewer charges on them
- spreading utility charges out over the year will make them more affordable, and will provide better information to people about their water usage and also help to detect leaks sooner
- user fees are not part of the property tax deferral program
- parcel taxes will remain on the property tax notice
- Property taxes and the parcel taxes on property tax bills can be deferred through the provincial property tax deferment program
Homeowners are only billed for services they receive. Some areas receive all three; curbside, water, and sewer, while other areas in the municipality are connected to the City of Duncan water system, or no municipal water and sewer system.
Paying your bill
Utility bills can be paid with online banking or by cheque either in person or by mail/courier.
- Water conservation, including sprinkling restrictions
- Where your water comes from
- Report a problem (water shut off, leaks)
- Curbside collection (schedules, Waste Wizard)
Residential water rates
The flat rate charge for water, plus excess water use charges, is billed three times per year on utility bill statements. Water meters are read three times per year, in January, May and September. Residents are allowed 126 cubic meters (28,000 imperial gallons) consumption for a four month cycle, per user. If you go over that amount, you will receive an additional excess charge on your utility bill.
Commercial water rates
Commercial water customers are billed quarterly for both their flat rate charge and any applicable excess charges. Commercial users are allowed 95 cubic meters (21,000 imperial gallons) consumption for a three month cycle, per user. If you go over those amounts, your quarterly bill will include excess charges.
Excess water consumption
Using more than the allowable amount of water (the residential municipal average) may indicate that you have a leak in your water system. Repair water leaks quickly to reduce excess consumption and conserve water.
Finding a Leak
For many properties, the first suspicion of a leak occurs when high water consumption is noticed on the water bill.
Property owners have a responsibility to check for water leaks. To do this, first make sure that there is no water being used in the house. Look at the meter to see if it is spinning and if it is, it's possible that you have a leak. If you have a leak, you will need to look around to try to find the source. The most likely sources are toilets, faucets, showerheads, and sprinkler systems. If you are unable to determine the source of the leak, you may need to contact a plumber.
If it is one of these sources, no leak adjustment will be made. Only leaks in the main water line are eligible for adjustments. You must contact our office within a few days of discovering the leak. Advise us immediately as you have no more than 60 days from your last bill's invoice date to detect, repair and submit a leak application to the office.
Adjustments to the Water Bill
Where the recorded water consumption is abnormal and caused by leaks originating on the customer side of the meter service box or chamber, the customer may qualify for a leak adjustment depending on the nature of the leak.
The leakage of water must have been caused by circumstances beyond the customer's control, such as a break in the service line, a mechanical malfunction, water theft, vandalism, or unusual or emergency conditions.
Tangible proof will be required that all leaks have been repaired (i.e. repair receipts) and Municipal staff reserve the right to inspect the repair prior to considering a leak adjustment.
A customer has no more than sixty (60) days from the date of billing, to formally register a complaint or dispute with North Cowichan regarding the amount of any water bill.
Calculation of Leak Adjustment
The customer shall assume responsibility for the normal amount of water consumed at the current retail rate plus 50% of the water consumed as a result of the leak at the current retail rate.
The maximum amount a customer shall be required to pay is one thousand dollars ($1,000) per residential or two thousand dollars ($2,000) per commercial, industrial or institutional unit.
Only one leak adjustment per property within a 5 year water consumption period shall be permitted.
Leak Adjustment Application
A Leak Adjustment Application needs to be filled out and completed in order to process a possible leak credit within sixty (60) days of the billing date.
- Leak Adjustment Application
- According to the Fees and Charges Amendment Bylaw No. 3903, 2023 there is a Water Leak Administration Fee in the amount of $50.00.
Fill out the Leak Adjustment Application, accompanied by receipts for parts or labour to show the leak has been repaired, and submit within 60 days to:
Municipality of North Cowichan
7030 Trans-Canada Highway
Duncan, BC V9L 6A1
Utility rates are set according to the Fees Bylaw, while municipal responsibilities are outlined in the Waterworks Bylaw. View all Municipal Bylaws.
Online account information
Access all your North Cowichan accounts online at www.northcowichan.ca/MyMuni. View tax account information, water consumption, utilities history, dog licences, and business licences. All you need to create a profile and register your account(s) is the account number from your utility bill.
Contact the Utilities Clerk: 250-746-3100, or email firstname.lastname@example.org