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New Rate Structure

New water, wastewater and stormwater rate structure

The City of Ottawa has improved how it bills for water, wastewater and stormwater to create a fairer and more sustainable system for its residents.

On October 26, 2016, City Council approved a new Water, Wastewater and Stormwater Rate Structure. The new rate structure was developed after an extensive public consultation process during which over 800 residents provided feedback, and is based on research and municipal best practices.

The new structure increases fairness, is more flexible, and more reflective of the many different kinds of properties in Ottawa. 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.

The new structure identifies three components: water, wastewater and stormwater. The water and wastewater charges will have a fixed rate prorated over the year, and a variable component, based on monthly consumption. Water billing rates are dictated by the annual rate-supported budget approved by City Council.

One of the key outcomes of the new rate structure is the implementation of a new charge for stormwater services for properties that do not currently pay this fee. Stormwater will be charged through a fixed rate fee to all applicable properties that benefit from stormwater service. Previously this fee was included in the sewer surcharge rate.

Why change?

Historically, all properties were paying for stormwater either on their water bill or as a tax levy, or a combination of the two. In 2001, 100% of the fee was moved to the water bill as part of the sewer surcharge. That meant that only connected properties that received a water bill contributed to stormwater management funding.

This fee was charged based on water consumption, but stormwater services are not affected by how much water you consume, but rather by the runoff from hard surfaces from building rooftops, driveways, parking lots and other paved surfaces, such as the roads we drive on.  

Implementation schedule

The implementation of the new rate structure will have two phases:

Phase I – May, 2017 – Non-connected properties will see a new stormwater charge on their final tax bills. It’s estimated that the majority of non-connected residences will have an annual stormwater charge of under $20 in 2017.

The new stormwater charge will be phased in over the next four years to allow non- connected property owners time to adjust:

  • 2017 - 25%
  • 2018 – 50%
  • 2019 – 75%
  • 2020 – 100%

Phase II – 2018 - Connected properties will see 3 components — water, wastewater and stormwater —identified on their water bills where previously there were two. This category is approximately 85% of properties in the City of Ottawa. It’s estimated that the majority in this category will see little or no change to the total amount they pay on their water bill.



Water:  Water is defined as drinking water services that ensure that over 225,000 households and businesses in the serviced areas of the City have clean, high-quality drinking water on demand. It’s a 24/7 operation, with many safeguards and quality assurance processes.

Wastewater:  Wastewater services take care of the city’s sanitary sewers, making sure that wastewater is properly cleaned and treated before it’s discharged into the Ottawa River.

Stormwater:  All properties with hard surface areas that are impervious to rainwater (e.g. roof tops, driveways, parking lots) contribute to stormwater runoff, as well as properties that do not provide enough drainage or permeability to keep up with precipitation and melting. Roadways also contribute to runoff, particularly in 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.

All properties in Ottawa benefit from stormwater management, which keeps basements dry, protects roads from erosion, keeps local waterways healthy and keeps drinking water sources clean.

Fixed-rate component: The fixed part of the water and wastewater charges are 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 – these are costs that don’t change, no matter how much water is used.

Variable rate component: The variable portion of the water and wastewater charges are based on consumption that varies with water use – there is a minimal rate for minimal use, and increasing rates for heavier use. This will continue to encourage water conservation and allows people to control their bill by reducing the amount of water they use.

Connected Properties: Connected properties currently pay a sewer surcharge and are connected to the City’s wastewater service.

Non-Connected Properties: Non-connected properties typically have a private septic system and are not connected to the City’s wastewater service.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

What is stormwater?

Stormwater includes rain and melted water runoff (i.e. collected in culverts, collection pipes, ditches and storm ponds). Stormwater services ensure stormwater is safely transported throughout the city to protect roads, properties and local waterways, to avoid flooding and erosion. All City residents benefit from stormwater management.

Is the stormwater charge new for connected properties?

No. Connected properties are already paying for stormwater services through the sewer surcharge on their water bill. The changes proposed will more transparently reflect the services properties are paying for.

Why is there a new stormwater fee?

After 2001, 100% of the stormwater fee was only charged on water bills, which means non-connected properties did not pay the fee. 

A new rate structure was developed to be fair and equitable and ensure sustainable funding to keep water delivery assets in good repair (i.e. maintaining infrastructure and water quality).

I don’t receive a water bill from the City. How will I be billed for stormwater?

The stormwater charge has been added to the final property tax bill as of May, 2017.

How is the stormwater charge calculated?

The stormwater rate will vary, depending on the following components:

  • Property type - Residential vs. Non-Residential (Industrial, Commercial, Institutional)
  • Stormwater service area – Urban vs. Rural
  • Stormwater service type - Connected vs. Non-Connected

To achieve an equitable distribution, the stormwater rates are based on the total estimated hard surface area between Residential properties and Industrial, Commercial and Institutional (ICI) properties (67% Residential and 33% ICI).

Residential & Multi-Residential (6+ units) -   All residential and multi-residential properties will be defined as having a combination of the following characteristics:

  • Property type (single/semi-detached or townhouse/apartment)
  • Service area (urban or rural)
  • Service type (connected or non-connected)

The stormwater rate is calculated by applying the following discounts from the base rate:

  • Townhouse/apartment receive a 50% discount
  • Urban non-connected properties receive a 30% discount
  • Rural non-connected properties receive a 50% discount

For residential properties with more than one unit, the stormwater fee is charged per dwelling unit.

Industrial, Commercial and Institutional (ICI) -  All ICI properties will be defined as having a combination of the following characteristics:

  • Assessment Range (based on Current Year Assessment Value)
  • Service Area (Urban or Rural)
  • Service Type (Connected or Non-Connected)

The stormwater charge for ICI properties will be calculated based on current year assessed property value as returned by MPAC annually. Unlike residential properties, the impervious areas of ICI properties are extremely diverse, making it virtually impossible to establish fair averages. Assessment value is considered to be a reasonable proxy for property size. 

The stormwater rates for ICI will be a flat fee based on assessment ranges.

ICI properties not connected to City wastewater services will receive a 30% discount on their stormwater charge.

How will the new stormwater fee be charged?

Non-connected: Properties that do not receive a water bill and are not connected to wastewater (approx. 32,000 properties, predominantly rural) will have the stormwater fee included on their 2017 final property tax bill.  The fee for non-connected properties will be phased in over the next four years to allow time to adjust:

2017 - 25%             2018 – 50%          2019 – 75%            2020 – 100%

Connected: Properties that receive a water bill will see the stormwater fee identified on their water bills in 2018.

How are properties classified?

All property types are assigned a property code (type) bympac

I believe I have an incorrect property type.  Can I appeal?

You may apply directly to mpac for a correction. 

I believe I have an incorrect assessed property value.  Can I appeal?

You may apply directly to  mpac for a correction. 

Can I appeal the stormwater fee charged by the City?

Assessment code and value are used as a “proxy” for impervious land; this is captured once a year and is used to determine the property’s stormwater charge. The stormwater fees charged by the City cannot be appealed, however will be adjusted for the following year’s fee if assessment and/or property types are corrected by MPAC. 

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 changes to the City’s rate structure have no impact on municipal drains.

How can residents request ditch/culvert maintenance?

Residents can submit a request for ditch maintenance online through, or call 311 to input a service request which will be forwarded to the Environmental Services Stormwater group for attention.

Why are there no discount/grants for rain barrels?

Staff have been directed by Council to review Municipal best practices for credits for Stormwater management controls on individual properties including those that recognize rain barrels, trees, cisterns, permeable driveways and/or those other engineered landscape controls, and report back on their findings as a part of the next term of Council’s Long Range Financial Plan for rate-supported programs. 

How does meter size affect the stormwater fee?

Meter size has no impact on the stormwater fee. 

Meter size will impact the new water and wastewater fixed charges in 2018.

How was the new stormwater fee communicated to affected property owners?

Residents were involved in the development of the new structure through public consultations and an online survey in 2016.  On October 26, 2016, Council adopted the new Water, Wastewater and Stormwater Rate Structure.

Communications have included: and a pamphlet in 2017 interim tax bills. Letters were mailed to affected property owners who do not receive an interim property tax bill or who pay via mortgages.  Posters have been erected in rural facilities (libraries, recreation centres, constituency offices, Client Service Centres).  There will be ads in rural community newspapers beginning June 1, 2017.  A pamphlet will be included in all 2017 final property tax bills.

How will my water bill change?

The impact of the new water and wastewater rate changes will depend on how much water you use and the size of your water meter. The water and wastewater rates do not differ between residential and non-residential properties.

The impact of the new stormwater rate will depend on:

  • Residential & Multi-residential properties - property category, service area, and service type (whether you are connected to City wastewater services or have a private septic system).
  • Industrial, Commercial and Institutional (ICI) properties – assessment range, service area, and service type (whether you are connected to City wastewater services or have a private septic system).

My utilities are included in my rent. Will these 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 will be minimal and may actually reduce monthly charges due to the economies of sharing one fixed cost for one meter for multiple units and the fact that the stormwater charge would be half that of the single and semi-detached homes.