Residents of Wawanesa will soon be paying higher prices for water and sewer.
The Public Utilities Board of Manitoba recently approved a water and sewer rate increase after village council requested it to keep up with the rising costs of the systems.
The decision to apply for the increase was two fold, said Mayor Bruce Gullet.
“We applied because the requirements of Manitoba Water Stewardship keep increasing and the system itself is increasingly expensive to operate and maintain,” Gullett said.
Water will jump by $2 from the current price of $6.30 per $1,000 gallons to $8.30 — a 32 per cent increase — while sewer will rise $.65 to $7.25 per 1,000 gallons — an increase of 10 per cent. But the biggest per cent change in rates will come on the quarterly service charge, as residents will go from paying $9 to $15.65, representing a 74 per cent increase, all effective Jan. 1, 2012.
“The majority of the new money will go into maintenance and operations, but we’ve been attempting for probably 15 years to build a reserve so that we can start replacing some of our old line,” Gullett said.
The village is trying to swap over old steel pipe to PVC pipe and, according to Gullett, many of the old steel joints in the ground are beginning to cause a great deal of expense due to frequent breaks and loss of treated water.
“The steel lines are sitting in the ground just butted up against each other because the bolts are rusted off,” Gullett said, estimating the village has about 4.5 kilometres of steel pipe to replace.
“Every time the ground shifts we have a significant water leak, and that is expensive to repair. It’s also expensive to treat the water, then to lose it back into the ground is not good,” Gullett added. “We need to improve our line so we can maintain the proper amount of pressure in our line for fire hydrants and those sorts of things.”
And the lines are only the beginning for Wawanesa, Gullett said, as the village is already working with the province on a capital project to upgrade the current water treatment plant to a diaphragm system. Then, he said it will be time to focus on replacing a sewage plant that is more than 40 years old.
“It’s past its best before date, but it’s such huge money to replace,” Gullett said.
Although ratepayers never like to see rate increases, Gullett believes it is imperative to start the changeover if the community is going to continue to move forward and be the type of progressive community it has always prided itself on being.
“This isn’t something we’ve hid from people and for the most part people realize that first and foremost you have to reliable of safe drinking water and I’m sure there will be some people that aren’t happy, but you can’t exist without it,” Gullett said.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition July 10, 2012