The latest in a steady stream of rate hikes from Waterloo Region is behind the big price increase in water and wastewater costs bound for Woolwich Township this year.
A 9.9-per-cent increase in the price of water supplied by the region translates into a 9.4-per-cent hike locally, to $1.24 per cubic metre from $1.14. That represents about an additional $18 to $24 per year for the average household.
On the wastewater side, the region has hiked its rate by 14.9 per cent, forcing the township to pass on an increase of 13.6 per cent, to $1.48 per cubic metre from $1.30, adding about $32 to $43 per year to the average annual cost.
The local increase was slightly smaller than the regional cost hikes because the township was able to temper its share of the costs, although the bulk of expenses relate to fees charged by the region, director of finance Richard Petherick told councillors Tuesday night. The new rates were given tentative approval as council’s review of the 2009 budget.
The large increases from Waterloo Region are necessary because of rapidly rising costs, including capital upgrades and new monitoring protocols demanded by the province, Nancy Kodousek, the region’s director of water services, said in an interview.
The upper-tier government is in the midst of a 10-year capital campaign to upgrade water and sewage infrastructure, currently predicted to cost more than $1 billion. The increased rates reflect the extra costs, she said.
Bill 175, the Sustainable Water and Sewage Systems Act, requires municipalities to run those services on a cost recovery basis. Additional costs and paperwork are expected under Bill 195, the Safe Drinking Water Act that followed the Walkerton tragedy.
New rules mean Woolwich and every other Ontario municipality had to begin collecting enough through its fees to pay for future upgrades and repairs to the water and sewer infrastructure, rather than financing the costs through general coffers.
The township has been ramping up costs since 2005.
In response to a question from Coun. Mark Bauman, Petherick said Woolwich’s rates are still among the highest in the area, but other municipalities are starting to catch up.