Ottawa’s water prices will go up by seven per cent if a recent proposal to increase water and sewer water rates is accepted by city council.
The City of Ottawa released its water and wastewater rate budget on Tuesday, recommending a seven per cent water and sewer water rate increase for this year and next, meaning households who use an average amount of water will see their bills rise by approximately $47.
The city says the raise will help cover the replacement and rehabilitation costs of aging water and sewer infrastructure.
Releasing multiple years’ rates at once is a new approach. The city released rates for several years ahead of time, meaning businesses and residents will know approximately how much they will pay each coming year.
If approved, the increases would mean an additional $46.70 on the average home’s water bill in 2013, and an additional $50.05 in 2014. In 2015 and 2016, the city predicts a six per cent increase.
Coun. Maria McRae, chair of the city’s environment committee, says that the budget “strikes a responsible balance between renewing aging infrastructure and ensuring ratepayers get best value for their dollar.”
Seventy per cent off the proposed increase is to be used for new infrastructure projects and renewing aging systems around Ottawa.
“Water and wastewater rates are the same for businesses as they are for residents,” says Marian Simulik, Ottawa’s city treasurer. “Most businesses end up using less water than residences,” she adds.
According to the city, if approved by council, the increases would mean the average household water and sewer bill would rise from about $668 last year to about $715 in 2013 and $765 in 2014.
Marco Smith, a Centretown resident, says he supports the recommendations.
“I mean, it’s another $50 I don’t want to spend on a necessity like water,” he says. “But on the other hand, when infrastructure fails, like with the sinkholes and road collapses over the past few months, it makes sense that they are raising rates to fix this.”
“It’s important that we look at this budget as a collective tool to solve some problems, but also to prevent problems from coming to future generations of Ottawans,” says McRae.
In addition to increasing the water and sewer water rates, the water and wastewater rate budget will also provide funding for the Ottawa River Action Plan, the Orleans Reliability Link, and Ottawa on the Move.
The environment committee will be discussing the budget at their next meeting on Feb. 19.