Nova Scotia

Halifax Water seeks 11.6% rate hike from Utility and Review Board

Halifax Water has applied to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board for a total rate increase of 11.6 per cent that would apply to water and wastewater service, but not stormwater charges.

Spokesperson says increase is needed to cover rising expenses, replace aging pipes over next 30 years

A Halifax Water spokesperson said since the utility's last rate hike in 2016, it has spent $225 million on improvements. (Jonathan Villeneuve/Radio-Canada)

Halifax Water has applied to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board for a total rate increase of 11.6 per cent that would apply to water and wastewater service, but not stormwater charges.

If approved, the first increase of 5.8 per cent — or an extra $3.68 a month — would take effect this September. The second increase of 5.8 per cent — or an extra $3.91 a month — would take place on April 1, 2021.

A Halifax Water spokesperson said the rate hike is needed to cover rising expenses and replace aging pipes over the next 30 years.

"It's a large operation that requires continuous investment," said James Campbell. "We're basically in the public health and environmental protection business."

Campbell said since the utility's last rate hike in 2016, it has spent $225 million on improvements.

Climate change

Halifax Water says climate change is part of the reason for upgrading the water system. Some of the needed projects include daylighting the Sawmill River in Dartmouth to deal with excess stormwater and the construction of a new dam at the Lake Major water supply to help with drought conditions.

Campbell said the cost of water and wastewater in the Halifax region is still low compared to other areas of Canada. He said if the board accepts the proposed hike, the average customer will pay $832 a year as of September, compared to the national average of $982.

The board will hear Halifax Water's application on June 1.

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