Water rates could be going up by 30%. 1 Halifax Water, the publicly owned utility providing water, sewer and wastewater services to most of HRM, has applied to the Utility and Review Board for a major water rate hike. There is a hearing on April 15th. The rate hike will probably go through since the UARB rubberstamps most rate hike applications. (Remember Nova Scotia Power?)
After electricity rate hikes, bus fee hikes, government user fee increases and more, workers and their families are now expected to swallow a major hike in water rates too. The cost of utilities and basic services is out of control.
So what’s going on? Who is responsible for this rate hike? What can we do about it?
Halifax Water says the rate hike is necessary because we need to do $2.6 billion in repairs and improvements to our water, sewer and wastewater systems over the next 30 years. A large part of the cost of these repairs comes from new federal water quality standards that must be met, as well as the cost of replacing outdated infrastructure, like lead pipes. In general, these standards and upgrades are a good thing that should increase water quality and public confidence in our water systems.
The rate hike is happening though because the federal government decided to force municipalities to pay the cost of adopting these new standards by themselves. The federal government sets the standards but is investing very little in public infrastructure. What little investment does occur often requires privatization or P3s – public-private partnerships. As we’ve learned in Nova Scotia where we’ve had P3 schools, roads and nursing homes, P3s mean private profits and public pain. 2
Putting ourselves at risk by privatizing our water should never be on the table. Water is a human right and necessary for all life. Water is not a commodity and should not be bought and sold on stock exchanges. That’s why we have public utilities, accountable to the people, to guarantee access to [...Continue reading Stephen Harper is hiking your water bill by 30%]