Column: May 28, 2015

Water, wastewater & stormwater structure review
On May 19, city staff tabled a Report entitled “Water, Wastewater & Stormwater Rate Structure Review” at the Environment Committee. This report made a recommendation to study the way the City charges for water, wastewater and stormwater services.
The City currently operates their rate structure for water and wastewater services based on a 100% consumption basis, based upon metered water usage. This rate structure has two principal limitations. First - only customers who pay for water and/or sewer services contribute to the cost of stormwater operations and infrastructure, however stormwater services benefit the entire community, rural and urban. Second - revenues for stormwater services are based on metered water consumption volumes, but the cost that drives rural stormwater management is related to runoff from properties. This lack of correlation between revenue and expenditures does not provide an equitable basis for allocating costs.
Currently, an excess of 45,000 properties do not have a water meter and are not charged for water, wastewater or storm water services. Of these, around 30,000 fall in the rural area and benefit from the stormwater system without contributing to the maintenance.
City staff are not recommending that rural residents with private wells and septic, pay sewer and water fees. They are looking to find a more effective and equitable way to incorporate the fixed cost of stormwater management (cleaning ditches, maintaining cross road culverts).
Please keep in mind the following:

  • The proposed study would look at best practices in other municipalities to see what options are fair and equitable.
  • The goal of the study is to ensure the system’s financial sustainability.
  • At this point, no new rate structures have been proposed
  • Prior to amalgamation, all or part of the cost of maintaining stormwater infrastructure was funded through the general property tax bill.
  • During amalgamation, these charges were transferred to the water bill resulting in some Ottawa properties receiving the benefit of stormwater services without contributing to them.
  • If approved by Council, staff will conduct the study, which will include a public engagement component and will report back to Committee and Council with options for a new rate structure in early 2016.
  • Any new rate structures approved by Council would not be brought into effect until 2017.