Small water systems have water technology that has a higher cost structure than those of large cities. Consequently they cannot enjoy “comparable” consumption patterns. It is shown that full cost pricing is not compatible with achieving equity for small system residents and marginal cost pricing would not cover the capital costs. Therefore, provinces could seek legal recourse for higher federal transfers, based on section 36(2) of the Canadian Constitution Act, which mandates “comparable” public services irrespective of residence. It is argued that such a case is justiciable. This legal remedy would interest the global water policy community.
Key words: Alberta, water pricing, small water systems, affordability, income.
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