Nova Scotia has introduced legislation to assist municipalities and residents who are experiencing dry wells as a result of a historic water shortage.
Amendments to the Municipal Government Act and the Halifax Regional Municipality Charter introduced on November 3rd allow municipalities to create a program that would pay the costs of drilling or expanding wells upfront. These costs would then be applied to a property’s tax bill and repaid over time.
“The lack of rainfall over the past number of months has caused about 2,000 wells in southwest Nova Scotia to go dry. Drilling a new well can be expensive and residents need support to get water flowing again,” said Municipal Affairs Minister Zach Churchill. “This program will provide Nova Scotians with opportunities to improve their water situation without having to worry about paying right away. It will also give municipalities another mechanism to help property owners fund similar projects in the future.”
This financing model is used throughout Canada and the United States to fund improvements on commercial or residential properties. It has also been used by some Nova Scotia municipalities to fund energy efficiency projects.
Under these amendments, municipalities that wish to participate would create a by-law that lays out the details of the program. The program would be voluntary, may cover up to 100 per cent of the project’s costs, have financing terms of up to 20 years, and could be combined with other federal or provincial programs. If required, municipalities can secure funding from the Nova Scotia Municipal Finance Corporation.
“The past few months have been difficult for many of our residents who are struggling with dry wells,” said Eddie Nickerson, warden of the Municipality of the District of Barrington. “While our community has come together to offer help for those without water, these amendments will allow us to put affordable, long-term fixes in place to avoid these situations in the future.”
Nova Scotia has been managing water shortages since the summer with Dartmouth and several areas in the south-west experiencing prolonged groundwater. Water Canada reported on some of the water shortage concerns in September.