Woolwich residents will be reaching deeper into their pockets next year when they want water from their taps. They’ll be digging deeper still to flush it away.
The township plans a 5.88 per cent increase to its water rates and a 6.30 per cent hike on the wastewater side.
The increases approved this week by councillors bring the cost of water to $1.61 per cubic metre, up from the current $1.52, while wastewater charges go to $2.02 per cubic metre from $1.90.
Users will be paying $16 to $22 a year more for water and $22 to $29 more for wastewater, based on typical usage.
Most of the increase is due to higher rates from the Region of Waterloo, which provides the water and treats the sewage, director of finance Richard Petherick told councillors.
The region plans to hike water rates, which account for 60 per cent of Woolwich’s costs, by 6.9 per cent. For wastewater, the planned increase is 7.9 per cent on costs that amount to 68 per cent of Woolwich’s budget.
While the township has tried to temper those aspects of the budget it controls, the bulk of the expenses simply get passed through, said Petherick.
Huge increases have been the norm in recent years, as the region implements the user-pay, full-cost-recovery model for its water and wastewater systems, as mandated by the province.
For Coun. Bonnie Bryant, the trend is reason to worry about increases with no end in sight.
“Can we expect this kind of increase every year? It’s getting fairly large,” she said of the rates imposed on residents who use municipal water and sanitary sewers.
Mayor Todd Cowan, township’s representative on regional council, said the increases represent costs due to over-zealous regulations and expensive capital projects that have to be paid for by users. As well, the region’s efforts to reduce water usage have been so successful that revenues are down considerably, ironically requiring residents to pay more for using less. The goal, however, is to put off yet more capital projects, including a long-discussed pipeline to the Great Lakes.
Pointing to a much smaller expense in the 2013 water budget, Coun. Allan Poffenroth questioned the need to spend $60,000 on consultants to tell the township how much it should be hiking fees.
“We can’t figure that out ourselves?”
The consultants are needed, said Petherick, to determine the state of the current infrastructure, what improvements need to made, how much it will cost and how much higher rates should be to cover those costs.