Water consumption is down in Moncton, but officials say users can still expect price increases in the future.

"There is a slight decline at this point. We are also nervous as to the future," said Andrea Flanders, deputy treasurer for the City of Moncton. 

A variety of factors are contributing to the decline in water use, she said. Maple Leaf Foods is scaling down operations and is expected to close soon.

Another big user, the local hospitals, are planning to send laundry to Saint John, which would further reduce usage.

"Other commercial activity we see are hoteliers are down," Flanders said.

"We see a decline in residential consumption. It looks like there are more vacancies, more snow birds. We do overall see a consumption decline."

Despite the decline in consumption, water and sewage rates will likely continue to rise by two per cent — costs that will have to be borne by fewer users.

John Martin, the chief financial officer for the city, said a recent look at the numbers shows utility revenues are down.

"We're thinking that by the end of the year that will probably be in the range of $450,000, but that's on a close to $22 million water budget."

Flanders said consumers can expect rates to increase steadily.

"Water and sewer rates will incline as consumption declines and costs continue to escalate. It will force us to increase our rates [for] existing water and sewage users," she said.