Sunday, January 25, 2015

Water & Waste Water Rate Freeze, Again!

I am thrilled to let you know that last week Council approved another freeze on our residential and commercial water and waste water rates. This will be the second year of a freeze!

How are we able to freeze rates when others Towns or Cities are contemplating increases of 2% to 7% increases?

We invested in technology and new infrastructure. Those investments are now paying dividends.

New RF Water Meters:
Prior to 2010 the Town measured water usage with old gallon and cubic metre odometer-type wheel meters – many of which that were installed when municipal water was first installed to various parts of the Town in the 1960s and 1970s. Needless to say, the meters were aged and, in many cases, slow and failing. We asked residents to provide readings or hired students to get readings every four months. That process would take two weeks. If a resident had a leak, it could take months to detect and added significant costs.

In 2010, the Town worked with Neptune Technology to replace all 4,200 of these old meters to electronic, RF (Radio Frequency) meters. In addition to leak detection, backflow detection, tamper detection and data logging, it takes only 3-4 hours for staff to drive around Town and record all the usage data every two months.

Not only does this cost less and give much more accurate billing, but we also automatically notify residents / businesses by phone if there is a leak or other issue with their water service.

When we replaced all meters we found homes and businesses without meters or with meters but that hadn’t received any billings. Sadly, in other cases, it appeared that some home owners tampered with or bypassed the old meters. Now, with all the meters replaced and these issues resolved, we reduced our water loss from 20% to less than 10%!

(To read more about the success of this replacement program please click here to read the article from Neptune Technology.)

Other Infrastructure Improvements:
As you know, we have also upgraded significant Town infrastructure over the last number of years. As we reconstructed or improved roads like Haist Street, Pelham Street, Port Robinson Road, Canboro Road, and Church Street we also replaced old water pipes and (in some cases) sewer pipes. Over the last eight years, we replaced more than 12 kilometers of cast iron water mains! This helped stop costly leaks and significantly reduce the number of breaks and repairs.

On behalf of Council, I am pleased that our investments in technology and new infrastructure are now paying dividend and allowing us to freeze your water and sewer rates for a second year.