The cost of water continues to rise in Windsor.
The first of three scheduled rate increases will take effect Jan. 1.
The Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board recently gave the Town of Windsor permission to jack water prices three times between Jan. 1 and April 2014 to offset rising operational costs at the Windsor Water Utility.
The review board’s decision, based on a rate study completed by G.A. Isenor Consulting Limited in association with W.H. Gates Utility Consultants Ltd. and a public hearing held in Windsor Nov. 6, was posted on the regulator’s website Dec. 21.The document, signed by public hearing moderator Kulvinder Dhillon, says residential users on a 5/8 inch metre will be subjected to a 2.8 per cent hike Jan. 1, promptly followed by an additional four per cent increase April 1, 2013 and a 3.7 per cent spike in April 2014.
The rate increases for other metered customers will be based on an average quarterly consumption of 11,166 gallons, and range from 3.3 per cent to 8.7 per cent Jan. 1, 3.8 to four per cent in April 1, 2013, and 3.8 per cent to 3.9 per cent in April 2014.
Both the Town of Windsor and the Municipality of West Hants will note increases in the public fire protection charge owed to the water utility. The Town of Windsor covers 67.4 per cent of the charge, while the municipality accounts for the rest.
The review board’s report says the town’s portion will increase from $252,263 to 283,885 by April 2014, while the municipality’s contribution will jump from $122,292 to $137,621.
Warden Richard Dauphinee and Michael Edgar, the lead water/wastewater operator for West Hants, asked the review board to consider delaying wholesale rate hikes until the 2013/14 fiscal year at the public hearing regarding the proposed rate changes.
The review board’s formal decision says this request was denied due to the water utility’s accumulating deficit, which was projected to exceed $398,000 in three years if the rates remained the same.
In addition to approving rate hikes, the review board advised the Town of Windsor to conduct a formal water audit if the utility’s proportion of nonrevenue water continues to be significantly higher than the industry average in the future.
“Attention to this matter should be a main priority of the Utility at this time. The production of significant volumes of water which do not reach the customers represents not only wastage, but also additional costs to the Utility,” the report reads.