Sunday, March 6, 2016

“Three-Peat” Freeze & Best in Niagara

I am thrilled that Council is set to approve another freeze on our residential and commercial water and waste water rates. Because of ongoing efficiencies and innovations, the Town will absorb the Region’s 3.2% water rate increase and 1.8% waste water increase.

How are we able to freeze rates for 2016 and how do we compare to others in Niagara?

RF Meters Paying Dividends:
Prior to 2010 the Town measured water usage and calculated waste water charges with old gallon and cubic meter odometer-type wheel meters – many from the 1960s and 1970s. Many of the aged-meters counted slowly or were failing/broken. It took two weeks to collect readings. If a system leaked, it could take months to detect.

In 2010, the Town worked with Neptune Technology to replace and upgrade all 4,200 our meters to electronic, RF (Radio Frequency) meters. In addition to leak, backflow, and tamper detection, it only takes 3-4 hours for staff to collect 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. And, after replacing all the meters, we reduced our water loss from +20% to less than 10%.

Infrastructure Upgrades:
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, and Canboro Road we also replaced old water and sewer pipes. Over the last nine years, we replaced more than 13 kilometers of cast iron water mains, which helped stop costly leaks and reduces the number of breaks and repairs.

Best in Niagara:
I reviewed the most up-to-date rates and calculated the fixed charges and the rates for both water and waste water for Pelham and for the other local municipalities. At $161 for two months (for the average residential use of 50 cubic metres) Pelham leads the pack with the lowest combined water and waste water charges!

Half of our neighbours – Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara Falls, St. Catharines, Thorold, and West Lincoln – are between 19% and 29% more expensive. The others – Fort Erie, Lincoln, Port Colborne, and Welland – are more than 49% more expensive! (Please see the comparative chart at by clicking here for all the details.)

Council and I are pleased that our investments in innovation and infrastructure continue to pay dividends and allow us to “three-peat” the water and sewer rate freeze.