Rates have increased for water users in the Town of Trenton.
As of April 1, the water bill for a home (with for residents) went up from $64.20 to $141.60 per fiscal quarter. It’s set to increase on April 1, 2024, to $165.47, and on April 1, 2025, the rate will rise to $199.40.
Chief administrative officer (CAO) Alanna MacDonald said the last water study in the town was in 2009 and the last water rate increase was in 2011.
“It’s been a significant period of time since water rates were increased,” she said.
According to the town, the average water bill in Nova Scotia is currently between $135 and $145 per quarter, and, before the new rates, the town’s average water bill was $64 per quarter, which equated to only $21 per month for residents of Trenton.
“We will be at the median,” the CAO noted. “That’s why we needed to have a water rate study completed, to ensure that the revenue that we are bringing in is sustaining the water utility but also to improve water infrastructure.”
While the water utility is not in a deficit, the CAO said it was “in danger of running into a deficit.”
“Because the rates that were in place aren’t able to meet the cost of running a water treatment plant,” she stated. “As you can imagine, with rising costs everywhere the last two years, it’s risen dramatically.”
Other reasons for the increase include replacing and upgrading infrastructure to ensure the delivery of safe drinking water.
“We’ve already made strides, this year, with the water reservoir. We are replacing the water reservoir on Acadia Street,” MacDonald noted. “We are making improvements to the booster station as well. Then within three or four years, we’re going to have to look at replacing our water treatment plant.”
Replacing the reservoir entails decommissioning the old reservoir at an estimated cost of $3 million, while upgrades to the booster station are estimated to come in at around $500,000, MacDonald said.
“And ensure that the base put in for the new reservoir, that any water lines or any lateral lines underground have been addressed,” she said.
The town hired G.A. Isenor Consulting Ltd. and Blaine Rooney Consulting Ltd. last year to help with the water rate study, MacDonald said.
“They were excellent, very helpful and informative, and guided us along in that process to ensure it was done properly,” she noted.
The Town of Trenton, on behalf of its water utility, said it applied to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board (NSUARB) to amend its schedule of rates and charges for water and water services, as well as its schedule of rules and regulations.
After providing public notice, the town said a hearing was held on Dec. 14, 2022.
“We posted information in our newsletter and on social media, and we put the information out there as often as we could to let residents know the direction we are moving,” said MacDonald.
After this, the town said the board approved the new rates, including the public fire protection charge.
The town’s approved increases are related to changing provincial and federal environmental standards for drinking water, as well as the increases in costs for power usage, chemicals and treatment supplies, equipment, and transportation, which include fuel, insurance, repairs, and maintenance).
The CAO acknowledged the new rates are coming at a tough time for town residents experiencing higher costs for essentials, but she added the increases were necessary.
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