The water you drink, clean the sidewalk with and flush down the toilet will soon cost you a little more.

The flat-rate increase, which comes before council today, would see the water costs of a single-family dwelling increase to $417 next year, up from $379 this year.

But rather than being an incentive to use less, the proposed 10 per cent increase is almost an incentive to use more, said Vision Vancouver Coun. Andrea Reimer. “You’re going to pay the same amount whether you use many, many litres or very few litres,” she added.

Vancouver, which considers itself a green city — and has even started marketing itself as a Green Capital — has a serious water habit, using two to three times the amount of cities in other developed nations.

“We are so bad on water consumption. Of all the green benchmarks, it’s the one we’re worst at.”

A potential solution, and one floated by the city’s greenest city action team in its recent 2020 plan, is the use of water meters. The devices have been shown to decrease water use in other jurisdictions, including Kelowna where per capita use fell 20 per cent in a decade.

Only 14 per cent of Vancouver — the lowest of any major Canadian city — has water meters (it’s a requirement in new buildings), but retrofitting could be expensive, and could even cost hundreds of millions to retrofit the Vancouver region.

In the next couple of months, city council will receive a staff report on broad-brush action items, costs and timelines for implementing the 10-year greenest city plan.

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