Water rates in Nelson will increase by two per cent in 2019 while sewer rates will go up by 1.5 per cent beginning April 1. This decision passed third reading at council’s Monday meeting.
This will mean an annual increase of $18.90 per year for Nelson residences for both utilities combined. This amounts to a total residential charge of $1,036.80 in 2019 for water and sewer.
The city has transferred some money from the water budget to the sewer budget and amended the fees accordingly because of some good water news and bad sewer news.
We’re using less water than a decade ago
Graphs produced by city public works staff show an 11 per cent decrease in overall water use since 2008. The data also show a decrease in per capita water consumption in the highest-use month, from about 1,500 litres per capita per day in 1996 to about 600 litres in 2018.
City staff attribute the reduced consumption to ongoing leak detection and repair work done since 2005 on 27 per cent of the city’s water lines, many of which were almost a century old.
Sewage treatment upgrade needed
The city’s 47-year-old sewage treatment plant needs a $15-million upgrade over four years, for which the city has already applied for a $2.8-million grant. Some of the upgrade costs will be paid for from the city’s sewer reserve fund.
Not only does the plant need upgrading to meet new regulatory requirements, but it will take into account the next 50 years of business and residential growth in Nelson.
In addition, council materials note a “considerable increase in the strength of the effluent being handled at the plant, which after being monitored for the past two years has not subsided.”
This increase is putting a strain on the treatment equipment.
“Staff have started a testing and monitoring program from manholes around the city to try to understand where the higher strength product is coming from.”
A large grant for water improvements
In 2018 the city received a $6-million federal grant to pipe water from Anderson and Selous Creeks (secondary water sources used only in very dry periods) to the main Mountain Station reservoir to receive UV treatment and to centralize the reservoir system.
This work is expected to be completed by 2022.
The grant will also be used to fund the search for another secondary water source for the city.
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