On February 13th, 2020, Halifax Water filed a rate application with the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board (NSUARB) to increase water and wastewater rates. This rate application does not include stormwater rates. The NSUARB has tentatively scheduled a hearing June 1, 2020. This is the first rate increase application for water and wastewater services since April 2016.
Why is a rate increase needed?
Costs have increased over the last four years, since the last increase, and we need to spend more to maintain infrastructure. We need to spend more to ensure regulatory compliance, protect the environment and public health; adapt to climate change and mitigate its impacts; and ensure the utility continues to meet customer expectations.
The total length of water, wastewater, and stormwater pipe owned and maintained by Halifax Water is over 3800 KM. If connected end-to-end, it would reach from our main office at 450 Cowie Hill Road, Halifax, via the Trans-Canada Highway to the border between Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
As you can see on this map, large sections of our infrastructure are ageing, and will need to be replaced. Over 30 years (2019-2049), it is estimated Halifax Water will need to invest approximately $4 billion to renew assets, support growth across the municipality, and maintain compliance with all required regulations, all while adapting to climate change and mitigating its impacts.
The Capital Budget (infrastructure improvements) for the fiscal year April 1, 2020 – March 31, 2021 alone is $96.5 million and includes projects for water, wastewater and stormwater. Continuous investment in our infrastructure is critical to the short and long term economic and environmental sustainability of our region, and to public health.
What does this proposed rate increase mean for homeowners?
While increases will vary based on usage, if approved by the NSUARB the projected cost increases for water and wastewater services for the average residential customer will be:
|Average Residential Monthly Bill Increase||Average Residential Quarterly Bill Increase||% Increase|
|Proposed Rate Effective Sept. 1, 2020||$3.68 / month||$11.04 / quarterly bill||5.8%|
|Proposed Rate Effective April 1, 2021||$3.91 / month||$11.73 / quarterly bill||5.8%|
|Water Consumption Charge||Water Service Base Charge||Wastewater Treatment Charge||Wastewater Service Base Charge|
|Existing Rate||$0.976 / 1000 litres||$39.00 / quarter ($13.00 / month)||$1.753 / 1000 litres||$42.00 / quarter ($14.00 / month)|
|Proposed Rate Effective Sept. 1, 2020||$1.085 / 1000 litres||No Change||$1.920 / 1000 litres||No Change|
|Proposed Rate Effective April 1, 2021||$1.201 / 1000 litres||No Change||$2.097 / 1000 litres||No Change|
How do Halifax Water's rates compare to other cities across Canada?
Halifax Water’s rates are amongst the lowest in the country. If the proposed rates are approved, on September 1, 2020, the average annual residential cost for a Halifax Water customer for water, wastewater and stormwater services will be $832. The average cost (as of January 2020) across other Canadian cities is $982 annually.
When was the last rate change for these services?
The last water and wastewater rate increase was April 1, 2016.
How does the rate application process work?
The Halifax Water Board, whose meetings are open to the public and live-streamed, first approves a proposed rate increase. A rate application is then submitted by Halifax Water to the NSUARB. Any change in rates and regulations has to be approved by the NSUARB.
What if I want to participate in the NSUARB rate hearing?
The rate application process is designed to be fair and open. Public and interested parties are welcome to participate. The NSUARB has tentatively scheduled a hearing for the week of June 1, 2020. For more details on the hearing process, please visit https://nsuarb.novascotia.ca/.
Is there a program available for those who may need financial assistance?
In 2011, Halifax Water established the H2O (Help to Others) Fund, a third-party fund managed through the Salvation Army. The H2O Fund assists customers with outstanding Halifax Water bills. Since the launch of the program, over 950 customers have been helped. Details on the H2O (Help to Others) Fund can be found here on halifaxwater.ca or at https://salvationarmy.ca/maritime/home/programs/h2o/.
Halifax Water by the Numbers
Halifax Water owns, operates, and maintains the following infrastructure to provide water, wastewater, and stormwater services to our customers and our environment:
Last year, Halifax Water:
Had 480 employees working hard to serve customers.
Halifax Water had 109,000 customer accounts, and served an estimated population of 370,000 people on a regular basis, plus countless visitors
in this region.
Water Talk is an informative newsletter being distributed in Halifax Water bills over the Winter/Spring billing period for all customers who receive water and/or wastewater services from Halifax Water.