International Journal of
Water Resources and Environmental Engineering

  • Abbreviation: Int. J. Water Res. Environ. Eng.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-6613
  • DOI: 10.5897/IJWREE
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 314

Full Length Research Paper

Towards equity in water pricing in small water systems: An Alberta case study

Gopal Achari
  • Gopal Achari
  • Department of Civil Engineering, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
  • Google Scholar
Mohammed H. I. Dore
  • Mohammed H. I. Dore
  • Department of Economics, Brock University, St Catharines, Ontario, Canada.
  • Google Scholar
Aaron Janzen
  • Aaron Janzen
  • Alberta Environment and Parks, Regional Approvals, Environment and Parks, 2nd floor, Deerfoot Square, 2938 - 11 St NE, Calgary Alberta, Canada.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 15 May 2018
  •  Accepted: 20 June 2018
  •  Published: 31 July 2018


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.