Water, Wastewater and Stormwater Rate Structure Review

Proposal for a New Water, Wastewater and Stormwater Rate Structure

On October 26th 2016 Council passed a new Rate Structure for the City of Ottawa. Eligible properties that do not receive a water bill will see a stormwater fee on their 2017 Final tax bill.

The fee will be phased in over 4 years. All other properties that receive a water bill will see this change in the Water Wastewater and Stormwater rate structure in early 2018.

The City of Ottawa is developing a new rate structure to fund its water, wastewater and stormwater services. These services, taken together, make sure Ottawa’s residents and businesses have safe, clean drinking water, that sewage gets properly treated at a treatment plant, protecting the safety of our rivers and streams, and that watermain breaks and boil water advisories are kept to a minimum. They make sure that, when it rains or when snow melts, the water drains safely, our streets aren’t washed out or eroded, and our basements stay dry. City Council invests in those services every year when they set the water, wastewater and stormwater budgets. Once the budget is set, all costs related to the these services are apportioned to those people that pay for water (i.e. those who are connected to the City’s water and wastewater systems) by means of a formula known as the rate structure.

For the first time since 2001, the City is proposing to change the rate structure. This change is needed to ensure that revenues needed to operate and maintain Ottawa’s water, wastewater and stormwater services are stable, and correctly aligned to each service –allowing residents to clearly see what they are paying for. The recommended new structure is based on research, municipal best practices and the feedback from over 800 people that participated in the consultations in the spring of 2016. 

What is the proposed New Rate Structure?

If approved by City Council, instead of a water charge and sewer surcharge on the water bill, there will be three fees: for water, for wastewater and for stormwater.

The water and wastewater rates will not be solely based on how much water you use anymore. Instead, there will be two parts to these fees: a fixed portion and a variable portion. The fixed part of the rate for each is needed to reflect the fixed costs the City incurs when it delivers clean water to your home or business and treats the water that leaves your home or business – costs that don’t change no matter how much water is used.  While having a fixed charge won’t add money to the budget, it will mean that the revenue stream to fund these services is more stable, regardless of whether there are major water use fluctuations in a wet or dry year. The variable portion is a consumption charge that varies with water use – there is a minimal charge for minimal use and a larger charge for very heavy use.  This will continue to encourage water conservation and allows people to control their bill by reducing the amount of water they use.  

The new rate also establishes a separate stormwater fee for those services. Right now, all stormwater services are funded through the sewer surcharge. The creation of a separate fee for stormwater reflects the reality that stormwater costs are not related to water or water use, but are driven by rain and meltwater volumes and impervious surfaces like roads, buildings and paved surfaces; not drinking water consumption. This fee would be charged to all properties across the city (except for agricultural and forested land), rather than only those receiving water bills. The stormwater fee will be discounted for households that are not connected to the water and sewer, to recognize the fact that they receive different stormwater services at a different, and lower, standard.

Will my Water Bill go up because of the proposed Rate Structure changes?

Over 85% of Ottawa’s 400,000 households and properties will see no change to their monthly water bill with the new rate structure, within a $2 per month increase or a decrease. For most residents, the only change you will see is a listing for three fees on your water bill where there are now two. (This means that, for those people, your water bill will only increase if your water consumption increases above a certain threshold or if the budget for these services is increased).   

No system is perfect, however, and the new rate structure change will have an impact on some households. For those homes that already keep their water consumption at a minimum, paying a fixed charge will be a change, and those water bills will increase. However, the consumption portion of the fee has been discounted for the lowest consumption level, which staff proposes be established at the consumption levels required to meet basic household needs.

For those households who do not receive a water bill, the new rate structure will mean that a new stormwater fee equal to approximately $2 to $6 per month will appear on your final property tax bill. For these residents, the fee is discounted from the stormwater fee that will be paid on the water bill in recognition of the different stormwater services provided to those on private well and septic systems. Staff is also recommending that, for those who do not currently pay the sewer surcharge, the stormwater fee should be phased in over four years to give those homeowners time to adjust.

The proposed new water, wastewater and stormwater rate structure is much more refined than the current rate structure, in response to public feedback. The City has created a number of tools to help you determine what it would mean for your household or business if the proposed new structure is adopted by Council:

  • A list of Frequently Asked Questions 
  • A Chart comparing what four different properties pay now versus what they would pay under the proposed new rate structure

The specific changes that staff is recommending to Council is summarized in the rest of this document. To get the full details, history and analysis, you can read the full staff report, titled Recommended Water, Wastewater, and Stormwater Rate Structure.  Because City staff took the initial proposals to the public for feedback, we are reporting back on how that feedback is reflected in what is being proposed to Council.

How the Public Consultation Changed the Proposed Rate Structure

The City conducted consultations on options for a new structure in March and April of this year. Over 800 residents took the time to attend the consultation sessions or go online to provide feedback on what they believed was important for the City to consider with a new rate structure. The feedback received through the consultation process has been collected into a report by One World Inc., who was contracted by the City to facilitate and take notes at each of the consultation sessions. A copy of the report can be found here: Consultation Report (alternative format).

Approximately two-thirds of those who provided the City with feedback are on private wells and septic systems, meaning that they do not pay water bills and would, under the proposed new structures, begin to pay for stormwater services that have been part of the water bill since amalgamation. Therefore, the majority of the feedback provided was related to the proposed establishment of a separate stormwater fee.

These residents felt strongly that creating a single flat rate for stormwater across Ottawa ignored the significant differences between properties in different parts of the city. Residents in unconnected properties are already required to fund their own private well and septic systems and drainage, as well as, in some circumstances, private stormwater systems and believe that the City should take these additional costs into consideration when establishing any new fee. Moreover, rural stormwater services are different than those provided in the urban area, and most expressed the view that any fee should also take those differences into account.  Finally, although the participants on private well and septic systems are more aware than most residents that the City’s stormwater infrastructure helps protect their roads from flooding, ponding and increased icing in freeze/thaw cycles, they also asked that the City look at stormwater services and rates in the broader context of how rural issues are dealt with overall.

The City has made significant changes to what was initially proposed in order to respond directly to what the City heard through the consultation process. The new structure is more flexible and reflective of the many different kinds of properties in Ottawa, increasing fairness. It recognizes the different types of services received by those in serviced areas of the city and those who rely on private wells in urban and rural Ottawa. Finally, it recognizes that changing the way residents and businesses pay for water, wastewater and stormwater services would affect those that are not connected to City services, and recommends a phase-in to reduce the impact on those who are not currently paying for stormwater services.

In addition, although not directly related to the Water, Wastewater and Stormwater Rate Review, staff is mindful of the feedback they received during the public consultation period with respect to related City services, in particular with ditching standards and the City’s Ditch Alteration Policy.  To this end, staff is proposing to review the Ditch Alteration Policy in 2017, and make adjustments, where possible, to address a number of the concerns raised.

Some context: how Ottawa pays for water, wastewater and stormwater services

The City of Ottawa owns and operates a vast network of pipes, ditches, pumping stations and treatment facilities that provide water, wastewater and stormwater services to Ottawa’s businesses and residents. The total budgeted cost of these three services in 2016 is $330,000,000. Table 1 shows the breakdown between the three services:

Table 1 – 2016 Water, Wastewater and Stormwater Budget (millions $)
Water Wastewater  Stormwater  Total
$160 $128 $42 $330
48% 39% 13% 100%

Different properties across Ottawa have different levels of City infrastructure. Table 2 lists the numbers and proportions of the different kinds of residential and commercial properties in Ottawa. For residential properties, the number of dwellings is used to include both single-family homes and multi-residential units.

Table 2 – 2016 breakdown of service levels for dwellings and properties in Ottawa
Property Type Urban or Rural Service Level Number of dwellings
Residential Urban Connected 343,100
Unconnected 8,600
Rural Connected 7,600
Unconnected 23,800
Total Dwellings 383,100
   
Property Type Urban or Rural Service Level Number of properties
Industrial, Commercial and Institutional Urban Connected 13,700
Rural Unconnected 5,800
Total Properties 19,500


The Water and Wastewater Rates

Currently, the City uses a uniform consumption-based rate to fund water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure. In other words, everyone pays the same amount for each cubic metre of drinking water used. The City charges $1.80 for each cubic metre of drinking water used and an additional sewer surcharge of $2.11 per cubic metre (2016 rates). The sewer surcharge funds both wastewater and stormwater infrastructure. Staff is recommending significant changes to this rate structure.As noted in Table 2, the majority (90%) of dwellings in Ottawa are in the urban area and connected to the City’s water and sewer network. Although industrial, commercial and institutional (ICI) properties represent just under 5 per cent of the total, these properties consume 27 per cent of drinking water produced and represent 33 per cent of Ottawa’s impervious surface.

Staff is recommending the introduction of separate rates for water and wastewater that would include a fixed fee portion (based on water meter size) and a variable portion (based on drinking water consumption). The same water and wastewater rates would apply to residential and ICI properties and would only apply to properties receiving City services.

Table 3 below shows the proposed fixed fee for water and wastewater, based on water meter size. As the table demonstrates, the large majority of residential customers would pay the lowest fee level, namely, $17.25 per month combined.

Table 3 – Proposed Monthly Fixed Fee Per Meter Size for Water and Wastewater
Typical Customer Meter Size # Meters in Service Fixed Charge per Month
Water ($) Wastewater ($)
Residential & Small Commercial 15 mm 214,304 9.14 8.11
20 mm 4,051 13.71 12.17
Small Commercial & Multi-Residential 25 mm 4,215 22.85 20.28
40 mm 2,674 45.70 40.55
50 mm 1,089 73.12 64.88
75 mm 307 137.10 121.65
Large Commercial, Institutional & Industrial 100 mm 98 228.50 202.75
150 mm 27 457.00 405.50
200 mm 22 731.20 648.80
250 mm 21 1,051.10 932.65

In addition to the fixed fee portion, Staff is recommending that properties that receive water and sewer services pay a variable rate based on drinking water consumption. Table 4 lists the proposed rates for successively higher tiers of water consumption. The system is graduated so that a residence that consumes 8 cubic metres of water would pay the Tier 1 rate for the first six cubic meters and the Tier 2 rate for the next two cubic metres.

Table 4 – Proposed Volumetric Rates (based on 2016 rates)
Rate Structure Water($) Wastewater ($) Total ($)
Current Uniform Rate (per m3) 1.801 1.571 3.372
Proposed Inclining Block Rate:      
Tier 1 (0 – 6 m3) 0.721 0.624 1.345
Tier 2 (6 – 25 m3) 1.441 1.248 2.689
Tier 3 (25 – 180 m3) 1.586 1.373 2.959
Tier 4 (>180 m3) 1.768 1.545 3.313

During the consultation, participants told us that the water and wastewater rates needed to be more nuanced to reflect different kinds of households in Ottawa. They also told us that more needed to be done to encourage water conservation. As a result, staff increased the number of tiers to reflect the average water use in residential households. Residential property owners and smaller commercial properties would be rewarded for conserving water. Low volume users could end up paying more under the new system, but this is offset by the significant discounts for Tier 1 water use, which is half of the Tier 2 rate.

Stormwater

All properties in Ottawa benefit from good stormwater management, which keeps basements dry, protects roads from erosion, keeps local waterways healthy and keeps drinking water sources clean. The City’s stormwater infrastructure extends throughout Ottawa, including:

  • 2,640 km of in-ground storm sewers
  • 348 stormwater outfalls
  • 5,520 km of drainage ditches
  • 5,800 culverts
  • 163 stormwater ponds
  • 149 other stormwater assets, such as underground storage tanks, oil separators, pumping stations, and flow control structures

All properties with hard surface areas that are impervious to rainwater (e.g. roof tops, driveways, parking lots) contribute to stormwater runoff. Roadways also contribute to runoff, particularly in un-serviced areas where the stormwater infrastructure is primarily comprised of ditches and culverts, but also in serviced areas where runoff flows to in-ground storm sewers.

Proposed Residential Stormwater Fee

The City recognizes that there is great diversity between different properties in Ottawa. Urban and suburban properties tend to be smaller and more impervious relative to lot size. Rural properties tend to be much larger and contain less impermeable surfaces relative to lot size. Agricultural land and forest land absorbs almost all rainwater and meltwater and so has a minimal impact on stormwater infrastructure, except when the ground is frozen. There is also a difference between the level of service provided by ditches and culverts in rural areas compared to in-ground storm sewers in urban and suburban areas. A fair system must balance the different realities of a variety of properties while still being simple enough to practically administer.

Staff is recommending a stormwater fee based on property type and level of connection to City services. Urban residential properties connected to the City’s water and sewer network would pay the highest fee, as these properties have the biggest impact on stormwater infrastructure. Rural and multi-residential properties would pay the lowest fees as their impact is much smaller. Agricultural and forested land would not pay a stormwater fee. For rural properties that comprise both agricultural land and a residential property, the stormwater fee would apply only to the residential portion of the property. The proposed annual stormwater fees for all properties are listed in table 5. Again, the numbers displayed are estimates based on the 2016 rate approved by Council. The actual amounts property owners would see on their bills would be based on the rate approved by Council in the year it is implemented.

Table 5 – Proposed Monthly Residential Stormwater Fee Structure (based on 2016 rates)
Property Type Service Level Stormwater Flat Fee ($) Discount
Single & Semi Connected 8.88 Full rate
Not Connected (urban) 6.22 30%
Not Connected (rural) 4.44 50%
Townhouse / apartments Connected 4.44 50%
Not Connected (urban) 3.11 65%
Not Connected (rural) 2.22 75%
Agricultural or forested Not Connected 0 100%

For industry, commercial, and institutional (ICI) properties, the stormwater fee is based on property assessment value. The assessment value is considered to be a proxy for property size. The most equitable option would be to calculate the actual hard surface area of every ICI property and use that as the basis for a stormwater fee. However, the cost of administering such a rate structure would far outweigh the benefits. For the ICI sector, the rate was calculated as a flat rate per assessment range. Due to the large range of assessment values in the ICI sector, eight tiered rates were established for eight assessment level ranges.The proposed monthly stormwater fees for ICI properties are listed in table 6.

Proposed Industrial, Commercial and Institutional (ICI) Stormwater Fee

Table 6 – Proposed Monthly ICI Stormwater Fee Structure (based on 2016 rates)
Assessment Value Ranges Property Type Stormwater Flat Tiered Fee
$0 - $300K Connected $5
Not Connected $3.50
$300K - $2M Connected $16.70
Not Connected $11.70
$2M - $8M Connected $125
Not Connected $87.50
$8M -$20M Connected $416.70
Not Connected $291.70
$20M - $50M Connected $833.30
Not Connected $583.30
$50M - $100M Connected $2,083.30
$100M - $200M Connected $4,166.70
Over $200M Connected $8,333.30

During the consultations participants told us that the original proposal was too simple and ignored significant differences between rural and urban properties in terms of hard surface area, property size, complexity of municipal infrastructure. In response to this feedback, the City has added more categories of properties and provided corresponding discounts to better reflect these differences. The proposed new fee structure more fairly reflects how different properties benefit from and impact the City’s stormwater system.

Many residents also asked why the City was proposing a stormwater fee rather than integrating stormwater services under the property tax system. The City examined this option and determined that using a fee structure provided the City with the flexibility to create a fairer system, where those that benefit from stormwater services pay for those services. If the stormwater costs were funded from the property tax, exempt properties like churches, hospitals and universities would not pay, even though they have impervious surfaces.

Proposed implementation schedule

The City recognises that, while most property owners would see either no change or minor changes to the amounts they pay for water, wastewater and stormwater services; the proposed changes would have an impact on those not connected to City services they would be paying a new fee for stormwater. As a result, Staff is recommending that, if approved, the new stormwater fee should be phased-in over four years for those properties who are not connected to the City’s water and sewer infrastructure. The recommended implementation schedule is as follows:

2017

  • In June, owners of properties not connected to the City’s water and wastewater network (unconnected property owners) would see a new line item on their final Property Tax Bill equal to 25% of their applicable stormwater fee
  • Water Bill recipients would see no change to the structure of their bills

2018

  • The City’s new billing system would be in place.
  • In January, Water Bill recipients would see the new rate structure reflected with separate charges for water, wastewater and stormwater services.
  • In June, unconnected property owners would be charged 50% of their applicable stormwater fee on their final Property Tax bill.

2019

  • In June, unconnected property owners would be charged 75% of their applicable stormwater fee on their final Property Tax bill.

2020

  • In June, unconnected property owners would be charged their full applicable stormwater fee on their final Property Tax Bill
  • The new rate structure would be fully implemented

Frequently Asked Questions

Single-family / semi-detached homes that receive a water bill
Urban homes that do not receive a water bill
Rural homes that do not receive a water bill
Multi-residential properties
Industrial, Commercial and Institutional properties

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Frequently Asked Questions - Single-family/semi-detached homes that receive a water bill

How will the proposed rate structure changes affect my household?

Over 85% of Ottawa’s 400,000 households and properties will see no change to their monthly water bill with the new rate structure, within a $2 per month increase or a decrease. For most residents, the only change you will see is a listing for three fees on your water bill where there are now two. 

What is changing then?

Currently, your water bill has a water charge and a sewer surcharge that includes both a wastewater and stormwater component. Going forward, the proposed change would mean three charges on your water bill, one for water, one for wastewater and one for stormwater. The water and wastewater charges will incorporate a fixed fee (or connection charge) and a volumetric (or consumption-based) fee.

How will I know if my Water Bill will change?

The impact that the proposed water, wastewater and stormwater rate changes would have on your water bill depends on how much water you use, where you live and the size of your water meter.

For the overwhelming majority of households, those that consume around 16 m3 of water per month would see no change in their monthly bill, or decrease or an increase of less than $2.

For those homes that already keep their water consumption at a minimum, paying a fixed charge, which for most households would be approximately $17.25, will be an increase. However, the consumption portion of the fee has been discounted for the lowest consumption level, which is set at half of the cost of the next tier.

Examples

Below you will find examples of how the proposed changes could impact urban and rural connected households. The numbers are rounded to the nearest dollar and are based on the 2016 rates.

Example 1 – Urban connected residence average volume

Alex and Jess live with their two children in a semi-detached house in Kanata. Their house has a 15mm water meter and they use 16 cubic metres of water per month on average. Under the current rate structure, they pay the following amounts on their water bill:

Water charge Sewer Surcharge Total monthly charge
Sewer charge Stormwater Charge
$29 $25 $9 $63

Under the proposed new rate structure, for the same 16 cubic metres, Alex and Jess would pay the following:

Monthly Water Bill Total monthly Charge
Water Wastewater Stormwater Fee
Fixed Variable Fixed Variable
$9 $19 $8 $16 $9 $61

Example 2 – Urban connected residence low volume

Kim lives alone in a small detached house in Westboro. Her house has a 15 mm water meter and she uses 5 cubic metres of water per month on average. Under the rate structure, she pays the following amount on her water bill:

Water charge Sewer Surcharge Total monthly charge
Sewer charge Stormwater Charge
$9 $8 $3 $20

Under the proposed new rate structure, for the same 5 cubic metres, Kim would pay the following:

Monthly Water Bill Total monthly Charge
Water Wastewater Stormwater Fee
Fixed Variable Fixed Variable
$9 $4 $8 $3 $9 $33

Is the stormwater charge new?

You are already paying for stormwater services through the sewer surcharge on your water bill. The changes proposed will more transparently reflect the services you are paying for.

When would I start to see changes on my Water Bill?

If Council adopts the recommendations Staff are proposing you would see the following changes to your Water Bill:

As of January 2017, your water bill will look the same. As of January 2018, your water bill will show the three separate charges for water, wastewater and stormwater.

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Frequently Asked Questions – Urban/village homes not receiving a Water Bill

This group includes single-family detached and semi-detached homes in the urban/village areas of Ottawa who have private well and septic systems, (referred to as Urban Unconnected in the proposed structure). These residences often also have private stormwater systems.

Stormwater services have been funded on the water bill, from the sewer surcharge, since 2001.  However, stormwater costs are not related to water or water use, but are driven by rain and meltwater volumes and impervious surfaces like roads, buildings and paved surfaces. Staff is proposing that a separate stormwater fee be established to fund stormwater, to be paid by all properties in the city except for agricultural and forested land.

This proposed fee for Urban Unconnected is different than the one you may have heard about in the spring. Instead, it reflects the feedback City staff received during the public consultations as follows:

  • The fee will be 30% of the fee paid by those who have a water and sewer bill;
  • The fee will be phased in over 4 years, in 25% increments; and
  • The City will review the rate and fee regularly to see how it is working.

These changes were put in place to ensure that, while it makes sense that stormwater services are being funded by all properties that benefit from the infrastructure, it is equally important that the fee recognizes the contributions that those on private services are already making to managing stormwater and drainage. The discounted fee reflects the larger greenspace around these homes and the lower impervious to permeable surface ratio for their properties and recognizes that the benefit received by these properties is primarily from road and roadside drainage and not drainage from

As well, at the request of the Mayor and your Councillors, and in response to the public feedback, staff will be reviewing the City’s Ditch Alteration Policy in 2017, and make adjustments where possible to address residents’ concerns.

How much will I be paying for stormwater?

As indicated, the overall stormwater fee is based on property type and level of connection to City services. Urban residential properties connected to the City’s water and sewer network would pay the highest fee ($8.88 per month), as these properties have the biggest impact on stormwater infrastructure. Urban unconnected properties such as yours would pay 30% of that fee (the equivalent of $6.22 per month) to reflect the fact that your property’s impact on the stormwater system is much lower. As well, staff is proposing that the fee be phased in for your properties over 4 years.

The following table illustrates what the average urban unconnected home will be paying.

Impact of Proposed new rate structure on urban/village single and semi-detached residential properties with private well and septic systems
Current rate structure Proposed new rate structure Average monthly fees under new structure Total annual fee under new structure
Water Sewer Stormwater
Pays the City $0 per month $0 $0 $7

2017: $2

2018: $3

2019: $5

2020: $6

2017: $19

2018: $37

2019: $56

2020: $75

Totals rounded to the nearest dollar and based on the 2016 rate

I don’t receive a Water Bill from the City. How would I be billed for Stormwater?

Staff are recommending that a stormwater charge be added to the final Property Tax Bill for properties that do not receive a Water Bill.

How would the new system be implemented?

Staff recognise that the introduction of a new fee will have an impact on homeowners and is proposing phasing-in the stormwater fee for households that do not receive a Water Bill over 4 years.

If Council adopts staff’s recommendations, in 2017, your final Property Tax Bill would include a charge for 25% of the applicable stormwater charge for your property. This charge would increase by 25% over the next three years until the new structure is fully implemented in 2020:

2017 = 25% of the applicable fee would be added to your final Property Tax Bill

2018 = 50% of the applicable fee would be added to your final Property Tax Bill

2019 = 75% of the applicable fee would be added to your final Property Tax Bill

2020 onwards = 100% of the fee would be added to your final Property Tax Bill

If you receive a water bill just for water the 50% charge will show up for the first time in 2018 on your water bill and you will not be charged on the tax bill in 2017 nor be charged on your water bill in that first year.  

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Frequently Asked Questions – Rural homes not receiving a water bill

This group includes single-family detached and semi-detached homes in the rural areas of Ottawa who have private well and septic systems (referred to as Rural Unconnected in the proposed structure).

Stormwater services have been funded on the water bill, from the sewer surcharge, since 2001.  However, stormwater costs are not related to water or water use, but are driven by rain and meltwater volumes and impervious surfaces like roads, buildings and paved surfaces. Staff is proposing that a separate stormwater fee be established to fund stormwater, to be paid by all properties in the city except for agricultural and forested land.

This proposed fee for Rural Unconnected is different than the one you may have heard about in the spring. Instead, it reflects the feedback City staff received during the public consultations as follows:

  • The fee will be 50% of the fee paid by those who have a water and sewer bill;
  • The fee will be phased in over 4 years, in 25% increments; and
  • The City will review the rate and fee regularly to see how it is working.

These changes were put in place to ensure that while it makes sense that stormwater services are being funded by all properties that benefit from the infrastructure, it is equally important that the fee recognizes the contributions rural residents are already making to managing stormwater and drainage, that it reflects the lower stormwater service standards in the rural area and is developed in context of the overall taxes paid in the rural parts of Ottawa (the revenues from the rural non-connected fee will be $2 million a year where the City invests $8 million each year in rural stormwater infrastructure).

As well, at the request of the Mayor and the rural Councillors and in response to the public feedback, staff will be reviewing the City’s Ditch Infill Policy in 2017, and make adjustments where possible to address residents’ concerns.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much will I be paying for stormwater?

As indicated, the overall stormwater fee is based on property type and level of connection to City services. Urban residential properties connected to the City’s water and sewer network would pay the highest fee ($8.88 per month), as these properties have the biggest impact on stormwater infrastructure. Rural unconnected properties such as yours would pay 50% of that fee (the equivalent of $4.44 per month) to reflect the fact that your property’s impact on the stormwater system is much lower. As well, staff is proposing that the fee be phased in for your properties over 4 years.

The following table illustrates what the average rural unconnected home will be paying.

Impact of Proposed new rate structure on rural single and semi-detached residential properties
Current rate structure Proposed new rate structure Average monthly fees under new structure Total annual fee under new structure
Water Sewer Stormwater
Pays the City $0 per month $0 $0 $4

2017: $1

2018: $2

2019: $3

2020: $4

2017: $13

2018: $27

2019: $40

2020: $53

All figures rounded to the nearest dollar and based on the 2016 rate

I don’t receive a Water Bill from the City. How would I be billed for Stormwater?

Staff is recommending that the fee be added to the final Property Tax Bill for properties that do not receive a Water Bill.

My property includes forest and agricultural land. How would this affect my stormwater fee?

Staff is recommending that forest and agricultural land pay no stormwater fees as these areas have little to no impact on stormwater infrastructure. Only the residential portion of your property would be taken into account when calculating the stormwater fee.

My property includes a municipal drain. Will the changes to the rate structure affect my municipal drain fees?

Municipal drains are part of a separate provincial regime. The potential changes to the City’s rate structure have no impact on municipal drains.

How would the new system be implemented?

Staff recognise that the introduction of a new fee will have an impact on homeowners and is proposing phasing-in the stormwater fee for households that do not receive a Water Bill over 4 years.

If Council adopts Staff’s recommendations, in 2017, your final Property Tax Bill would include a charge for 25% of the applicable stormwater charge for your property. This charge would increase by 25% over the next three years until the new structure is fully implemented in 2020:

2017 = 25% of the applicable fee would be added to your final Property Tax Bill

2018 = 50% of the applicable fee would be added to your final Property Tax Bill

2019 = 75% of the applicable fee would be added to your final Property Tax Bill

2020 onwards = 100% of the fee would be added to your final Property Tax Bill

If you receive a water bill just for water the 50% charge will show up for the first time in 2018 on your water bill and you will not be charged on the tax bill in 2017 nor be charged on your water bill in that first year. 

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Frequently Asked Questions – Multi-residential properties

Multi-residential properties include multi-unit residences like apartment or condominium complexes and townhouse complexes that have a separate water meter per dwelling or are serviced by a well for multiple dwellings. These properties can be connected or not connected to the City’s water and sewer systems. Apartment buildings that have one meter for the building will have one water bill for the entire building and typically the water charges are included in the rent.  The impact on these are unique to each building and are not addressed in this FAQ, but overall these buildings benefit from the economies of having one fixed charge for the entire building.

How will the proposed rate structure changes affect my household?

Over 85% of Ottawa’s 400,000 households and properties will see no change to their monthly water bill with the new rate structure, within a $2 per month increase or a decrease. For most residents, the only change you will see is a listing for three fees on your water bill where there are now two. 

What is changing then?

If you are connected to City services, your current water bill has a water charge and a sewer surcharge that includes both a wastewater and stormwater component. Going forward, the proposed change would mean three charges on your water bill, one for water, one for wastewater and one for stormwater. The water and wastewater charges will incorporate a fixed fee (or connection charge) and a volumetric (or consumption-based) fee.

Will my Water Bill Increase?

The impact that the proposed water, wastewater and stormwater rate changes would have on your water bill depends on how much water your property uses, where you are located and the size and number of your water meters.  The average person living in apartments or townhouses will see an average decrease of $6 in their monthy water bill.

My utilities are included in my rent.  How will the proposed changes affect me?

Changes in utility costs to your property owner may have an impact on your rent. Ask your property owner for more details. For most multi-residential properties the impact of the new rate structure would be minimal and  would actually reduce montly charges due to the economies of sharing one fixed cost for one meter for multiple units and the fact that the stormwater fee would be half that of the single and semi-detached homes.

When will I start to see changes on my Water Bill

If Council adopts the recommendations, in January 2017, your water bill will look the same. In January 2018, your water bill will display the three separate charges for water, wastewater and stormwater.  If you are a property owner whose property has private well and septic systems, 25% of the stormwater fee will appear on your final tax bill starting in 2017.  The fee would be phased-in over four years for those that are not connected to City Services.

Examples

Below you will find examples of how the proposed changes will impact condominiums or townhouses that are connected or not connected to City services. The numbers are rounded to the nearest dollar and are based on the 2016 rates.

Impact of Proposed new rate structure on condominiums or townhouses that are connected or not connected to City services
Property Type Current rate structure Proposed new rate structure Average monthly fees under new structure Average annual fee under new structure
Water Sewer Stormwater
Connected to City water and sewer Pays the City $63 per month

Fixed $9 (based on meter size)

Variable $19

Fixed $8 (based on meter size)

Variable $16

$4 $56 $672
Private well and septic systems Pays the City $0 per month $0 $0 $4

2017: $0.50

2018: $1

2019: $1.6

2020: $2

2017: $7

2018: $13

2019: $20

2020: $27

Totals rounded to the nearest dollar and based on average monthly consumption of 16m3 at the 2016 rate. Properties with private well and septic will see the stormwater charge appear annually on their final Property Tax Bill.

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Frequently Asked Questions –Industrial, Commercial and Institutional properties

The Industrial, Commercial and Institutional Properties (ICI) group includes industrial properties like offices, quarries and factories, commercial properties such as stores, parking lots and restaurants and institutional properties like universities and hospitals. These properties can be connected or not connected to the City’s water and sewer systems and may have multiple water meters.  It does not include multi-residential properties like apartments and condominiums; the residential rates for stormwater would apply to these properties.

How will the proposed rate structure changes affect my property?

For ICI properties receiving a water bill, the proposed change would mean three charges on the water bill, one for water, one for wastewater and one for stormwater instead of a water charge and a sewer surcharge. The water and wastewater charges would incorporate a fixed fee (or connection charge) and a volumetric (or consumption-based) fee. The stormwater fee is a fixed fee charged to all properties.

How will my stormwater fee be calculated?

Because there is so much variety between the size and composition of ICI properties, Staff is recommending the stormwater fee for this group be calculated based on assessed property value.

Why is the City using assessed property value to calculate the Stormwater Fee?

Unlike residential properties, the impervious areas of ICI properties are extremely diverse, making it  impossible to establish fair averages.  Assessment value is considered to be a reasonable proxy for property size.  It is also data that the City currently receives from and is validated by MPAC. Therefore, for ease of implementation and to ensure consistency of the fee charged to each property, the recommendation is to use individual property assessment values for calculating the ICI stormwater fees and charging a flat fee based on assessment ranges.  Properties not connected to City services will receive a 30% discount on the fee.

Staff are recommending that Council establish regular reviews of the Rate structure. As  technology  changes over time,  Council can  revisit such issues as  how to account for hard surfaces or encourage water conservation while retaining financial stability in addition  to addressing any unanticipated consequences of this new rate structure.

I don’t receive a Water Bill. How would the City bill me for the new stormwater fee?

Staff is recommending that a stormwater charge be added to the final Property Tax Bill for properties that do not receive a Water Bill.

Will my Water Bill Increase?

The impact that the proposed water, wastewater and stormwater rate changes would have on your Water Bill depends on how much water your property uses, the assessed value of your property and the size and number of your property’s water meters. Please see the examples below for a sense of how your property might be affected.

When will I start to see changes on my Water Bill

If Council adopts the recommendations Staff are proposing you would see the following changes to your Water Bill:

As of January 2017, your Water Bill will look the same. As of January 2018, your Water Bill will display the three separate charges for water, wastewater and stormwater.  The fee would be phased-in over four years for those that are not connected to City Services. As a result, if your property does not receive a water bill, 25% of the stormwater fee will appear on your final Property Tax Bill starting in 2017, increasing to 50% in 2018, 75% in 2019 and 100% for the year 2020 and onwards.

Examples

Below you will find examples of how the proposed changes will impact different kinds of ICI properties. The numbers are rounded to the nearest dollar and are based on the 2016 rates. 

Sample Monthly Billing Impact for Commercial Property Types:
Property Type Gas Station Restaurant Retail Store Hotel School Hospital University Large Mall
Assessment ($)   670,000 2,159,000  14,650,000 71,310,000  2,635,000   70,650,000 363,550,000  155,000,000
Meter Size(s) (mm)  15  25 40  100  25  25, 50, 50, 50, 50, 150  50, 150, 250  25, 25, 40, 40, 40, 75, 100
Monthly Consumption (m3)   13  167 148  11,069  87 8,866  30,317   4,748
Current Rate Structure:                
  Water Charge  23 300 267  19,936   156 15,968  54,600   8,551
  Sewer Charge  20 263  234  17,494  137 14,012 47,912   7,503
  Stormwater Charge   7 88  78 5,831   46 4,671 15,971  2,501
Total current bill  50 651 580 43,261  339  34,650  118,483  18,555
Proposed Rate Structure:                
  Water:                
  Fixed charge 9 23   46   228 23  772   1,581   548
  Variable charge   14 256   227  19,530   130 15,446   53,478   8,212
Total water   23 279 273   19,758   175 16,218 55,059   8,760
  Wastewater:                
  Fixed charge  8 20  39  196   20 663  1,358   471
  Variable charge  12 222   197 17,064  112   13,485  46,726  7,166
Total wastewater   20 242 236 17,260   132   14,148   48,084   7,637
Stormwater (ICI Flat Tier Option 2) 16   125  417  2,083  125  2,083 8,333 4,167
Total proposed rate structure bill 59 646 926 39,101   410 32,450  111,476 20,564
Variance  $9 higher $5 lower $346 higher $ 4,159 lower  $71 higher $2,200 lower $7,007 lower $2,009 higher

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