Virden water deficit leads to rate increase

Town accumulates $921,000+ deficit for water utility

The Town of Virden’s water and wastewater utility has built up a deficit of $921,355 over the course of nine years (2009 to 2017), and the Town has now been asked by the Manitoba Public Utilities Board (PUB) to apply for a rate hike so it can get caught up.

Town council has decided on a rate increase that will, if approved by the PUB, be charged to all municipal water customers on their quarterly water bill.

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At their Nov. 19 council meeting, councillors voted unanimously to approve an increase of $1.26 for every 1,000 gallons used.

Cost to users

Take an average adult using 5,000 gallons of town water per quarter, which is 20,000 gallons a year. If the rate hike is approved, that individual will have to pay about $25 extra per year for residential water. For a family of four, the increase could be $100 a year added to their water bills, depending on usage.

A statement from the Town of Virden to the Virden Empire-Advance says a number of factors caused the water utility deficit to build over the nine years:

  • lower than normal water billings during wet years,
  • not being able to bill for actual water used during times of frozen lines yet still having to treat that water,
  • an unusual amount of water line breaks during a couple of the years,
  • increased costs to deal with arsenic levels,
  • increased third-party water tests due to the sewage treatment plant going down, until it received its new environmental license. 

The statement goes on to explain the Town tried to balance the deficit so it didn’t accumulate, “but unfortunately, due to some of the above listed items, it hasn’t been happening, so the Public Utilities Board asked the Town to apply for an increase in rates to help recover that deficit.”

The statement goes on to explain there was no overdraft so no interest was incurred.

The rate hike, once approved by the PUB, will last until the deficit has been cleared, which the Town says could take ten years.


© Virden Empire-Advance