News / Ottawa

New water rates coming down the pipe in Ottawa

With the City of Ottawa wading through alternative water rate systems, taxpayers could see their bills change by early 2017.

But the city doesn't yet know if people will end up paying more for their water.

City staff are looking at ways to deal with an ongoing water revenue shortfall that reached a record $22 million last year.

On Thursday, city deputy treasurer Isabelle Jasmin provided a background briefing on different rate structures, which will be presented before an environment committee on Tuesday. From there, the city will host public information sessions in the fall and staff are hoping to return to council with a new rate structure by early 2016.

The city has yet to study how a fixed-rate structure would impact on the average homeowner’s water bill.

Currently, Ottawa’s rate structure is based solely on consumption – and the city is in the small percentage of the province’s larger municipalities to do so.

Most of the 24 other municipalities use a mix of a fixed rate and volumetric charge.

Water consumption in Ottawa has dropped 30 per cent since amalgamation – despite a growing population.

On the one hand, it means Ottawa residents are using less water. However, the city relies on that water revenue flow to fund repairs for its aging pipes and infrastructure. That’s expected to cost a total of $2.7 billion between 2012 and 2022.

(Fun fact: Ottawa has enough water and wastewater pipes to stretch from the city to Vancouver and back).

Taxpayers may have noticed a change in water bills this month, as rates increased by six per cent – or about $48 on the average homeowner’s bill.

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