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Faced with aging pipes, Saanich water, sewer rates pegged to rise

Saanich plans to set it
Saanich plans to set it's sewer and water utility rates at Monday's council meeting. Residents will likely see another hike in rates to help fund an infrastructure replacement plan.
— image credit: File photo

Turning on your sink will cost 57 per cent more next year than it did in 2008. What's more, flushing your toilet will cost 62 per cent more than it did five years earlier.

Saanich residents are now paying hundreds of dollars more for water and sewers than they did just a few years back after annual incremental increases of eight to 15 per cent for both services.

Saanich council was expected to approve the 2013 utility rates at Monday night's council meeting.

Much of the increase is attributed to Saanich's infrastructure replacement plan.

"It's been a significant policy for us now for more than 10 years to fix up the aging infrastructure," said Mayor Frank Leonard. "We've got a lot of old pipes underground, whether they're water or sewer, and we're aggressively saying (not replacing them is) not good enough. It's a choice of not giving a liability to our children, but a community with infrastructure that's an asset."

Next year, the cost of sending one cubic metre of effluent into the sewer system will be $0.83 – an increase of $0.32 since 2008. Next year's water rate, per cubic metre, is set at $1.34, a $0.49 increase since 2008.

Combined, the average Saanich homeowner will pay an average $55 more next year for the two services than in 2012. Of that increase, about $40 is earmarked for infrastructure replacement.

The remaining $15 is broken into increases to Capital Regional District bulk water costs, CRD operating and debt costs, and Saanich operating costs.

By comparison, in 2007 the average annual bill for sewer and water was $311. In 2013, that bill will be $722. (Saanich switched to consumption-based sewer bills in 2008, which resulted in, on average, sewer rates twice as high than on a homeowner's 2007 bill.)

Leonard says the increases to account for infrastructure replacement will flatline in the coming years (2016 for water; 2018 for sewage), at which point "spending levels equals the amount that the infrastructure is deteriorating," he said. "It's reaching a spending level where you're replacing it as it depreciates and you're no longer falling behind."

Next spring, once budget talks are complete, Saanich residents will also likely see property taxes increase to account for operational costs, infrastructure replacement, and new infrastructure costs. Property taxes rose $65.30 for the average Saanich home in 2012.

kslavin@saanichnews.com

 

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