Saint John residents will be paying an additional $72 per year for water as a part of two years of rate hikes to pay for the antiquated water and sewage system.

Saint John councillors approved an 8.3 per cent increase in water rates for 2011 and an 11 per cent hike in 2012 on Monday night.

Saint John Deputy Mayor Stephen Chase said the city already has the highest water and sewerage rates in the country.

He said the increases could be kept down if the cost to rebuild the system was made part of the city's long-term debt.

"In a utility where you are building infrastructures that are going to last 100 years then it makes sense to have several generations [to pay for it] because what will happen is those payments will be equalized and it is just less pain for everyone and it's more affordable," Chase said.

Saint John Mayor Ivan Court said the problem with Chase's plan is that a lot of city taxpayers aren't on city water.

"Forty per cent of the population in Saint John, who do not have a service — water and sewerage — would be subsidizing people who do," Court said.

Chase's motion, which would have required a change in provincial legislation, was eventually defeated by city councillors.

The city has had difficulty with boil water orders in recent years. In October, 45,000 people were forced to boil their waters after heavy rains caused the city's water to become cloudy.

Since Feb. 14, 2008, the city has been hit with seven boil orders.