Backgrounder – Wastewater Management Fee

Urban Services in East Hants

In East Hants, the corridor from Shubenacadie to Enfield is serviced by streetlights, sidewalks, hydrants (except Milford) and wastewater. Historically, these services have been billed through an Urban Service Rate as a property tax and billed as a rate per $100 of property tax assessment. With the exception of Milford, the East Hants Water Utility also services this area.

 

What is Wastewater?

Wastewater is the mixture of “used’ water and materials that residents and businesses flush down drains, toilets, and sinks. This material travels from a serviced property and is pumped through a series of pipes in the wastewater collection system to one of the Municipality’s wastewater treatment facilities in Lantz, Milford and Shubenacadie. The wastewater is treated and returned to the environment through local waterways.

What is the Wastewater Management Fee?

In 2010, East Hants introduced a Wastewater Management Fee (WWMF) to move the cost of wastewater services to a user pay charge instead of charging it through property taxes. Moving to a consumption charge is a fair method of billing, ensuring wastewater services are  paid for by people using the system. Billing for wastewater based on water consumption is consistent with many other municipalities across the country.

Facts:

  • The WWMF was introduced in 2010 at $1.00 per 1,000 gallons of water used;
  • To avoid rate shock, the WWMF was increased by $1.00 per year, until the cost of providing the service was covered by the WWMF and taken out of the amounts recovered through the Urban Service Rate (taxes) – Council kept the rate equal for 2017 to reduce the impact of new water rates
  • In 2021, the WWMF was held at $10.00 per 1,000 gallons or $2.20 per cubic metre of water billed as the rate is currently sufficient to cover cost of service
  • Unlike the Water Utility rates, the WWMF is not regulated by the Nova Scotia Utility & Review Board
  • East Hants staff and Council strive to keep water and wastewater costs as low as possible while ensuring environmental compliance in two highly regulated industries

Impact on the Urban Service Rate:

  • The Urban Service Rate, which included the full cost of wastewater prior to 2010, has been reduced since 2010 to account for the revenue generated through the WWMF;
  • In 2009, prior to the implementation of the WWMF, the residential Urban Service Rate was $0.302 per $100 of assessment; today the same rate is $0.07 per $100 of assessment;
  • The Commercial Urban Service Rate in 2009 was $1.17 per $100 of commercial assessment, this has been reduced to $0.657 per $100 of assessment;
  • Milford is not serviced by the Water Utility and therefore can not pay a wastewater consumption charge. Milford continues to pay for wastewater services entirely through the tax billing process with a higher Urban Service Rate than other areas.

Impact on Homeowners:

Depending on your individual circumstance (the assessment value of your home and water usage), the WWMF may result in savings for your household or in an increased cost of service. Council felt the charge based on water usage is more in keeping with value of service received. To demonstrate the impact of this change, a few scenarios are demonstrated below:


Scenario 1:

I am a Residential Water Customer living in a $300,000 home, we use 10,000 gallons of water per quarter

  • 2009 total cost of Urban Services billed through taxes = $906
  • 2021 total cost of Urban Services (billed through taxes with a $400 WWMF) = $610
  • Total Savings with Wastewater Management Fee = $296 per year

Scenario 2:

I am a Residential Water Customer living in a $200,000 home, we use 10,000 gallons of water per quarter

  • 2009 total cost of Urban Services billed through taxes = $604
  • 2021 total cost of Urban Services (billed through taxes with a $400 WWMF) = $540
  • Total Savings with Wastewater Management Fee = $64 per year

Scenario 3:

I am a Residential Water Customer living in a $200,000 home, we use 22,000 gallons of water per quarter

  • 2009 total cost of Urban Services billed through taxes = $604
  • 2021 total cost of Urban Services (billed through taxes with a $880 WWMF) = $1,020
  • Total Additional Cost with Wastewater Management Fee = $416 per year