Water costs could rise 3 per cent if council passes motion in February
Few residents in Ontario spend as much time talking about the cost and quality of their water as do those of Kawartha Lakes. Seldom did a council meeting go by in the last four years when something having to do with the city’s water and wastewater system didn’t appear on the agenda.
That very same water and wastewater may soon be more expensive for local users. If passed by council in February of 2023, residents could soon be paying an additional 3 per cent for their water and wastewater.
Dr. Adam Found, manager of engineering and corporate assets, gave council a brief overview of what the city’s plans are for the upcoming year. He then fielded a number of questions from councillors about the ongoing capacity and quality of water in Lindsay and Fenelon Falls in particular.
Found began by reminding council that the entire water and waste water budget is funded through user fees, and only residents who are hooked up to city water and sewer have to pay for water and wastewater.
“The city is responsible for 21 water systems and 6 wastewater systems,” Found said. “The city is also responsible for treatment plants, pumping stations, reservoirs, watermains and sewer mains. All users regardless of where they live pay a uniform fee with Lindsay users continuing to subsidize the smaller systems (making them viable).”
Found told councillors that the city is still playing “catch-up” with previously approved projects delayed largely by the pandemic, and that the small number of new projects on the docket for 2023 “will give engineering staff a chance to catch-up with projects still not done.”
Upgrades for 2023, if approved, will include a $2.3 million upgrade in water treatment and an additional $2.3 million spent on sewer mains.
Councillor Charlie McDonald wanted to know if the city has the infrastructure in place to support the building that is going on.
Director of engineering and corporate assets, Juan Rojas, said, “Two major studies have been done, and more studies are currently being done to determine usage and capacity and how much residual capacity exists. All new approvals are based on there being existing capacity.” Rojas said.
McDonald asked a follow-up question of Rojas, wanting more detail on what the city will do if the capacity does not exist.
Rojas laid out a number of options for the councillor including the developer being asked to put in the services themselves and later being refunded by the city or the city finding a way to speed up their own water and wastewater construction schedule.
Councillor Pat Warren wondered with all the development approved, should the city be spending more on beefing up their water and wastewater capacity.
“In the past few years significant work has been done,” Found said. “We can afford to take a year long breather (in major construction) for 2023.”
Councillor Mike Perry asked Found if this means that the very pressing problems facing the water and wastewater system in Fenelon Falls would get fixed in the upcoming year or soon after.
“We have actually accelerated the work in Fenelon Falls,” Found said. “After scoping all the water and wastewater pipes in Fenelon we are gathering all the capital deficiencies regarding problems with Fenelon, and then the work (to correct the problems) will be determined.”
More discussion of water and wastewater is expected throughout January and February 2023 as council crafts its new budget.