Water utility budget lower than projected

Posted on Wednesday December 11, 2019

During 2020 Budget deliberations, the Budget and Audit Committee approved a water utility increase of 3.4 per cent which is lower than the initial projection in the long-range financial forecast.

In accordance with provincial legislation, the City completed an update to its water and wastewater long-range financial plan in July of this year with a guideline of 3.9 percent increases over the next 10 years.

However, the City has since identified efficiencies through continuous improvement projects, as well as lower than forecasted regional water and sewer treatment rates.

“Through our innovative leak detection program, preventative maintenance, as well as other operational efficiencies, I’m pleased that we’ve been able to reduce the cost to the tax payer in 2020, while maintaining a safe and dependable water supply for the community,” said Cambridge Mayor Kathryn McGarry.  

One strategy is the use of surface sensors on sections of the water system. Analysis of changes in the acoustic signals enables the team to pinpoint leaks before they surface and repair the problem before a pipe bursts.

The City will continue to install smart water meters in homes throughout the city to improve the efficiency and reliability of the water system. The program is expected to be completed by the end of 2020.

The new smart meters utilize an advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) system to provide alerts for possible leak or flow problems, remote meter reading, and better data analysis. This real- time data will help ensure bill accuracy, and allows City staff and residents the ability to detect potential issues and avoid unnecessary water costs. A customer service portal is being developed which will allow residents to access their bills online and monitor their own water usage.

The 3.4 per cent increase represents an average annual water utility increase of $39 per household in 2020.

Budget deliberations continue tomorrow (Thursday, December 12) in Council Chambers at 1 pm.

Budget highlights and the full 2020 draft Budget and Business Plan be found at www.cambridge.ca/budget.