West Hants residents currently being served by the Falmouth or Three Mile Plains water utilities will likely be paying more in the near future.
In 2013, the municipality commissioned a water rate review for both the Falmouth Water Utility and the Three Mile Plains/Wentworth Road Water Utility.
Gerry Isenor and Blaine Rooney, consultants who completed the water rate study, attended a special committee of the whole meeting Jan. 7 to present their findings.
It was noted that the Three Mile Plains Water Utility was operating with a deficit, and without rate increases, it was projected to lose $78,000 in the first year, followed by $81,000 in the second year and $120,000 in the third year. The Falmouth Water Utility, however, is in better shape, currently operating with a surplus. Its bottom line wouldn't be as drastically affected as the other utility, it was noted, however, an increase would still be necessary.
“What we've seen here for figures, we have no choice. We have to move ahead. We can't let it run for a deficit forever,” said Warden Richard Dauphinee in an interview following the meeting.
Dauphinee noted both at the meeting and in the interview the main reason why the Three Mile Plains Water Utility was struggling was due to the Town of Windsor hiking their water rates earlier than anticipated.
“The big thing for the Three Mile Plains utility was that the Windsor utility had a three year increase slated and went to the Utility and Review Board after two years and so we didn't calculate that in,” said Dauphinee in the interview.
“We buy as a bulk user from the Town of Windsor so this forced us. Every time their water rates go up, ours go up as a bulk user,” he continued. “We're dependent on the Utility and Review Board on what they approve for the Town of Windsor so basically because theirs went up, we have to do a knee jerk reaction because of this one year and go a year earlier than what we probably would have.”
The proposed increase will be felt more by consumers who use water without conservation in mind.
“Your base rate is basically staying stable for three years. It's your consumption (rate) that's going up,” explained Dauphinee.
Isenor noted at the meeting that average water customers in Falmouth use 46,000 gallons of water compared to 36,000 gallons of water in Three Mile Plains annually.
Dauphinee said because of new energy efficient appliances that are available, and being able to cut back on luxuries like washing the car or excessively watering the lawn, residents could conserve enough water to not notice much of a difference on their water bill once increases kick in.
Before any increases can be approved by the Utility and Review Board, council must hold a public hearing. Be sure to check the Hants Journal for the date of this meeting, as well as full details on the amount being proposed.