The COVID-19 pandemic has many Halifax Water customers concerned about the future and their ability to pay bills. To help support customers in these uncertain times, Halifax Water has recommended to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board (NSUARB) that there be no increase in water rates for fiscal 2020/21 and 2021/22.
In addition, the utility is recommending no increase in overall wastewater rates in 2020/21 and an increase to wastewater treatment/usage charges effective April 1, 2021. The current application does not address stormwater, and no adjustments are currently planned for stormwater rates in 2020/21.
Halifax Water’s request to increase rates was filed prior to the global pandemic. Some customer relief was quickly initiated, and a longer-term strategy was developed that now allows Halifax Water to revise its requested rate increases.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented period of financial uncertainty for many of our customers,” said Cathie O’Toole, general manager of Halifax Water. “We have an obligation to continue providing services, but also have a responsibility to consider other factors like affordability, and impact on the local economy. Halifax Water recognizes the financial challenges some customers now face and is there to help support customers worried about their water, wastewater, and stormwater service.”
To further assist customers, Halifax Water is withdrawing some planned increases to miscellaneous fees and charges. It is also recommending the current temporary customer assistance measures in place be extended to August 31, 2020.
- Customers may defer payments on accounts from March 13, 2020.
- No interest will be charged on overdue accounts from March 13, 2020.
- Halifax Water fees for dishonoured payments will be waived from March 13, 2020.
- Disconnection for non-payment of service is suspended.
- Customers facing economic impacts due to the COVID-19 situation that will cause them to struggle with paying their accounts are asked to contact Halifax Water’s Customer Care Centre at firstname.lastname@example.org or 902-420-9287 to discuss payment arrangements.
A public hearing before the NSUARB is scheduled for the week of June 1, 2020.
More information on the rate application is available here.