Sewer Surcharge Overview
Residential and Commercial Customer Rate Adjustments Approved for Fixed and Water Consumption Charges for 2023
- The City of Windsor has announced rate adjustments to residential and commercial rates for 2023.
The majority of the expenditure increases in 2023 (i.e. 81%) are not due to increases in operations but are instead a result of an increased contribution to capital expenditures. This capital funding is used to fund the maintenance of pollution control equipment; sewer-related capital work, including the significant sewer and flood mitigation investments identified as part of the Sewer Master Plan; inflationary pressures on capital projects; and stable funding for the Sewer Surcharge Reserve.
The adjustments to the rates will become effective on April 1, 2023.
The average residential customer that reduces water consumption similar to the trend may pay less of an increase for the sewer surcharge component of their water bill in 2023.
What is the Sewer Surcharge used for?
The Sewer Surcharge on the water bill contains a fixed charge component based on the size of the service and a consumption charge component based on water consumed. The revenue collected is used to fund capital projects largely related to alleviating basement flooding, along with operational expenditures related to sewer maintenance, sewage pumping stations and sewage treatment plants.
As a result of increased pricing for capital projects, additional funding of $4 million for Sewer Master Plan–related projects and funding of $4 million to build up the Sewer Surcharge reserve are included in the capital expenditures. Additionally, the continued $1 million increase in annual inflationary adjustment to the capital investment in 2023, along with additional funding of $1.25 million for the pollution equipment replacement reserve, will be used to fund additional key priority capital projects. Total increase in capital is $10.25 million.
Increased summer consumption for uses that typically do not return water to the sewer system (e.g. filling pools, washing cars, watering grass, etc.) is not included in the calculation of the sewer surcharge.
The City, on behalf of its residents, maintains 1,770 kilometres of sewers, 45 pumping stations and 2 major pollution control plants. These assets have a value of approximately $2 billion.
There is a continued need to comply with ever more stringent environmental regulations, which achieve important environmental objectives but are costly to implement. In addition, the effects of climate change are resulting in more frequent severe storms that increase the risks of flooding in the city. As a result, the City has spent $110 million to upgrade the Lou Romano Sewage Treatment Plant and $67 million on the Mario Sonego Storm Retention Treatment Basin (RTB). Additional flood mitigating projects, as outlined in the Sewer Master Plan, are currently being constructed by leveraging grant funding from senior levels of government.
Why is the Sewer Surcharge paid as part of the water bill?
The sewer surcharge is a charge assessed on your Windsor Utilities Commission
water bill, as sewer related costs incurred by the City are excluded from the property tax bill.
This methodology supports the “User Pay Principle,” since a majority of the sewer surcharge–related costs are directly related to the amount of water discharged into the sewer system and treatment plants. The transparency of allowing the consumer to monitor the amount of water used and sewer surcharge that they are being billed for allows the consumers the ability to reduce their water consumption, thus reducing the amount of sewer surcharge fee that they pay.
In early 2021, Council endorsed the recommendations of a stormwater financing study, which presented options for funding the City’s stormwater system. The objective of this work is to establish a separate funding mechanism for the City’s stormwater infrastructure that will assess costs based on a more accurate measure of a customer's burden, whether residential or commercial, on the stormwater system. As part of 2022 budget deliberations, Council approved the implementation plan that will allow for the work of segregating the stormwater component from the Sewer Surcharge budget to begin. This Implementation plan is currently underway, and the new stormwater fee will result in substantial changes to the current Sewer Surcharge model. Customers will receive regular updates throughout the implementation of this project and prior to the launch of the new fee structure.
If you require additional information, please call 311.