Menu Search

Economic and financial tools

After maximizing your water operations and management and establishing legal tools, you may wish to employ economic and financial tools to help conserve more. Where legal tools directly restrict water usage and force people to conserve water, economic and financial tools incent them to. Some of these tools can even be implemented in a way that helps the municipality conserve financial resources along with water.

Water & wastewater rate review:

A rate review is comprised of reviewing current and future costs associated with the provision of water and wastewater utility services. The benefits of a review are numerous: they provide a better understanding of the real cost of service delivery that facilitates better decision making, information to better explain costs to rate payers, cost breakdowns for users outside the municipality. Visit the section page on Full Cost Accounting of municipal water supply systems to learn more about how to do this.

Conservation pricing and rebates:

Economic and financial tools come in two major forms: conservation pricing and rebates. Conservation pricing involves setting the cost of water in a way that incents users to use less. For instance, some municipalities scale the cost of water to how much the consumer is using: the more they use, the higher their rate is. Conservation pricing can also help the municipality recover more of the costs of providing water, assisting in full cost accounting while still giving consumers the option to save money by using less. These actions are not restricted to large municipalities, in 2009 the Village of Mannville replaced or installed radio frequency (RF) water meters with data log capabilities in all residential, institutional and commercial buildings and began charging consumption fees at a rate of $1.50 per cubic meter on deep well water.

Rebates, on the other hand, provide a direct incentive to implement more efficient technology. These are especially helpful with technology like water-efficient fixtures. The large majority of people who renovate their homes or businesses already install these fixtures, so bylaws requiring them no longer have much of an effect. However, the people who don’t renovate or build new structures may still have old, wasteful structures. Rebates make renovations more attractive to these home and business owners by lowering the cost of installing new fixtures. Numerous Alberta municipalities have instituted rebates on the purchase of low-flow toilets. Rebates can also incentivize consumers to adopt technologies like rain collection barrels or use water-conserving landscaping elements like mulch ground cover.  Some centres have extended these rebates to businesses as well as residents.

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities has funding available through the Green Municipal Fund for projects that target end-use water consumption.

For more information or resources on these tools, please email