Increase to contend with ‘ticking time bomb’

Water infrastructure in crisis – Pictured above is the water pipe from the Farlinger Avenue water break last Thursday. South Dundas treasurer Sarah McMillan included these pictures in her water budget report to graphically demonstrate the state of the 1950s era pipes that are underground in much of Morrisburg and Iroquois. The state of this infrastructure is the main reason for the looming water rate increase. At left the black shape is a huge hole in the pipe and at right is a picture of the inside of the pipe showing decades of buildup. (Municipality of South Dundas/May 31st screen capture)

SOUTH DUNDAS – The third time was the charm when staff presented South Dundas council with the latest version of their proposed changes to the water and sewer budget for South Dundas water users in Morrisburg and Iroquois.

A significant rate increase is still needed, and that didn’t change. But, staff did present council with the clearest explanation yet about why a large rate increase is necessary.

South Dundas treasurer Sarah McMillan showed pictures from last week’s water break on Farlinger Avenue in Morrisburg, to graphically depict just how bad the condition of the 1950s era pipes really are.

The planned rate increases are to contribute to reserves so that the money is there to repair and replace the highly degraded pipes as breaks occur.

“This is why it is important to continue contributing to the reserves,” said McMillan. “The underground infrastructure can and will fail. We need to start preparing the best we can.”

McMillan listed the streets in both Morrisburg and Iroquois with this type of underground infrastructure in similar condition including Laurier, Park, Kyle, Casselman, Broder and Lions here in Morrisburg and Davis, Brouse, Caldwell, Church and Ann in Iroquois.

“The challenge for us has been to get the rates to where they are palatable as we face the challenge of aging infrastructure,” said South Dundas mayor Steven Byvelds.

What will be presented to council for final budget approval at the June 14th council meeting to allow for July 1st implementation will still be double-digit percentage increases to water rates.

The flat rate portion water bills for Morrisburg and Iroquois residents will increase by $7.50 per month. The capital water levy will increase by 23 cents per cubic meter for all water users.

Sewer surcharges in Morrisburg will remain at 75 per cent of the water bill and sewer surcharges in Iroquois will remain at 100 per cent of the water bill.

With all these increases factored in, residential users with consumption of 11 cubic meters monthly can expect their monthly bill to be about 19 per cent higher in July than it was in June.

The July bill for a Morrisburg customer with water consumption of 11 cubic meters will be $99.74 and for an Iroquois customer with the same consumption it will be $112.38.

This increase will remain in effect until the end of 2021.

Seeing just how bad the aging infrastructure really is, South Dundas deputy mayor Kirsten Gardner said that not building reserves to prepare to do something about this problem would be “blatantly irresponsible.”

“At the end of the day you have to do what you have to do to keep everything operating,” said South Dundas councillor Donald Lewis, adding that 50 years of aging eventually catches up with all of us.

“The users have to realize we’ve been sitting on a ticking time bomb for a while,” said South Dundas councillor Archie Mellan. “There’s no doubt these pipes will break. It is what it is. There will be breaks.” He agreed that the rate increases being proposed are necessary.

South Dundas councillor Lloyd Wells was absent from Monday’s council meeting.

Mayor Byvelds apologized to the lower income people who will be hit hardest by this rate increase.

He added that while the underground infrastructure is in bad shape at least they have three fairly new water and sewer plants that they do not have to worry about.

Rates will be re-evaluated for 2022 when the next water and sewer budget is presented to council. Staff is proposing bringing the next water sewer budget to council in the fall of 2021.

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