The City of Toronto might boost water rates by nine per cent on January 1, the fourth straight year of nine per cent-plus fee hikes, reports the Toronto Sun.

The average home’s annual water bill would rise by about $50 to more than $590 in 2009, up from just $352 in 2004 when the city first began raising rates to help pay for aging water and sewer infrastructure.

The nine per cent annual increases are planned until 2012, but city council must still give final approval.

According to Toronto Water, the 2009 operating budget for water and wastewater requires $698.7 million, which will be fully funded out of the water and sewer rates. This year’s water budget earmarked $49 million for sewer infrastructure renewal, $31 million for improvements to the city’s four water treatment plants, $81 million for improvements to the city’s four sewage plants and $9 million to stop basement flooding.

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