Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Vote favours increasing water and sewer rates

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Council's public works committee has voted in favour of a three-year increase to water and sewer rates.

The average Winnipeg household will spend $939.32 on water and sewer bills in 2013, an increase of $38.32 from this year, based on a 4.3 per cent rate hike proposed by the water and waste department.

The increase marks the 10th-straight year water and sewer rates are set to rise to help pay for upgrades to Winnipeg's sewage-treatment plants and sewer replacements.

The province ordered Winnipeg to improve all three of its sewage-treatment plants on the heels of a massive sewage spill at the North End Water Pollution Control Centre. The province also asked the city to replace combined sewers with separate storm water drainage to reduce the number of spills each year.

The province wanted the upgrades to the North End sewage-treatment plant to be complete by December 2014.

This morning, water and waste director Diane Sacher said the deadline wasn't realistic, and the upgrades at the North End Water Pollution Control Centre will not be complete until April 2019.

The sewage-treatment plant is the largest in the city, and is one of the nation's worst polluters of phosphorus, which contributes to the harmful algae blooms in Lake Winnipeg.

Sacher said the city facility's output of phosphorus accounts for less than five per cent of the total nutrient load in Lake Winnipeg. She said the province has approved the city's plan for the upgrades, and the new limits on emissions such as phosphorus will take effect in 2019.

 

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