Halifax Water requesting double-digit hike from UARB

Halifax Water has filed an application with the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board to raise the price of water in the region by 11 to 16 per cent over the next two years.

The price increase would affect nearly 80,000 customers.

If regulators approve the increases, it would add nearly $200 per year to the average bill with the first proposed increase set to take effect in July 1. If approved, the second increase would take effect Apr. 1, 2014.

In a news release, the utility said it must upgrade aging pipes to meet new federal environmental guidelines. It also blames the rising costs of operating expenses such as electricity, chemical costs, and wages for the jump.

Halifax Water spokesperson James Campbell told CBC News the utility has no choice.

"Nobody wants to pay more, that includes customers and includes myself," he said.

A 30-year plan calls for $2.6-billion worth of spending.

"The wastewater system has been under funded for quite a number of years so the only way to turn the system around — and keep it safe and reliable so people can use their washrooms and use their washing machines and all the other systems that wastewater deals with — is to actually fund it," said Campbell.

A date for a hearing before the UARB has not been set.

Campbell said even if Halifax Water gets the increase, by comparison customers here would still pay below the average of other Canadian cities.

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