Two Irving companies will soon be paying new industrial water rates, according to Bill Edwards, Saint John's chief engineer.

The City of Saint John and J.D. Irving Ltd. and Irving Oil Ltd. will soon be paying new rates for industrial water, according to a senior city official.

Bill Edwards, the city's chief engineer, said the two Irving companies will soon be paying water rates based on a new city bylaw that has yet to be drafted.

Edwards said that bylaw will have a section that will create rates for untreated industrial water.

Edwards said talks with the Irving companies have been collaborative.

NB Power also receives industrial water from the city and the Crown corporation's rates will also be covered by this new bylaw.

The Irving pulp mill receives 90 per cent of its water untreated through a dedicated pipe from Spruce Lake, the city's west side water supply. The water is supplied under a deal that expired in 2005. 

A contract with Irving Oil expired in 2000 for a much smaller amount of untreated water used by the company's oil refinery. That water comes from the Little River Reservoir.  

The two companies are paying water rates based on the expired contracts.

Saint John Mayor Mel Norton suggested in February 2013 that discussions to hammer out new contracts with the Irving companies had new life.

Norton said on Wednesday he has not been updated on the file in several months.

A J.D. Irving Ltd. spokesperson confirmed there is still no deal with the city on water rates.

The city and the Irving companies have been close to reaching agreements in the past.

In January 2009, Paul Groody, the commissioner of municipal operations, said he was "cautiously optimistic" that new agreements would soon be struck between the city and the companies.