I would like to take a moment to review with you the newly recommended Water, Wastewater, and Stormwater Rate Structure which will be coming to Environment Committee October 18th for review and scheduled for Council October 26th.
Before beginning, I believe it is important to understand the current rate structure and why it is in need of change.
Presently, approximately 90% of households and businesses on piped services pay for the maintenance of our City’s sewer infrastructure as a percentage of their household’s measured water consumption. An estimate of this number is used each year to predict the city’s stormwater, wastewater, and water service budget.
The use of a consumption-based charge is beneficial in a sense as it is important in keeping our City’s water supply sustainable. However, with the current system in place, when water consumption goes down, this results in a smaller-than-predicted water service budget.
These costs must then be recouped the following year in addition to recovering regular annual cost increases. This unpredictability is just one of the two reasons a new structure is needed.
The second boils down to aligning user fees with the benefits received.
Presently, only those paying water bills with the City contribute to stormwater servicing fees while stormwater management benefits everyone – the reason being that surface areas such as roads, buildings, and paved surfaces are what are most affected without appropriate stormwater management.
It is estimated that 90% of costs associated for these water services are estimated to be fixed while only 10% varies based on consumption. As such, the new structure recommendation includes both a fixed component and a consumption-based (volumetric) component while separating fees for water, wasterwater, and stormwater services. The volumetric component was included to continue to encourage water conservation and minimize the impact of a new rate structure on households already conscious of limiting their water consumption each month.
Further, since residents who are not connected to the City’s water and wastewater services typically fund their own private wells and septic systems, up to a 50% discount will be granted to properties to reflect both green space and the ratio of permeable surfaces comparable to urban areas.
As this would be a new fee to these residents, Staff has recommended to phase in the stormwater fees for those not connected to City service lines over four years in 25% increments (25% of the listed fee the first year, 50% the second year, etc.).
I understand why some residents may show trepidation toward this proposed change, however, it is predicted that 85% of all households will see the same combined water bill costs within a $2 margin each month. Small business with high water volume will see the greatest benefit while larger business that don’t rely greatly on high water consumption will see the greatest impact.
I do believe with the extensive reviews on this service change proposal that it will be in the best interest for all residents moving forward. Of course, should you still have questions or comments, I would invite you to contact me at Shad.Qadri@ottawa.ca so that we may discuss them further.