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Saint John Water

About Saint John Water Rates

Flat Rate Customers

Saint John Water serves approximately 17,000 customers every year.  About 80 % of our customers pay a flat rate for their water and sewerage services.  For Saint John, this amount covers both the operational and capital costs of the utility.  For example, this includes maintenance and repair of Saint John Water’s inventory of gravel roads, as well as the Lancaster Lagoon, Lancaster Water Storage Tank, sewer lining and pipe patching.  It also covers large infrastructure improvements such as the Harbour Clean Up Project and the Safe Clean Drinking Water Project.

Council is required to set the rates that recover the operating and capital costs of the Utility.  Saint John Water provides Common Council with a proposed budget in the fall of each year.  Recommendations and any rate adjustments for customers must be approved by Common Council.  This is followed by a first, second and third reading before it is passed. 

  • The flat rate for 2019 is $119 per month ($1428 for a single unit dwelling.)  
  • It represents an increase from 2018 of $5.00 per month per residential flat rate user ($60 per year). This rate increase has been consistent over the past five years.
  • The plan is to have rates stabilize after 2019 when the new water treatment plant is fully operational. 
  • A Water Rate Study is currently underway and is scheduled for completion in the first half of 2019.

Year

Water

Sewer

Annual Payment

Monthly Payment

Percentage Increase

2009

373.86

456.14

830.00

69.17

19.25%

2010

389.18

474.82

864.00

72.00

4.10%

2011

421.62

514.38

936.00

78.00

8.33%

2012

437.84

534.16

972.00

81.00

3,85%

2013

454.06

553.94

1008.00

84.00

3.70%

2014

486.54

593.46

1080.00

90.00

7.14%

2015

518.92

633.08

1152.00

96.00

6.67%

2016

551,35

672.65

1224.00

102.00

6.25%

2017

583.78

712.22

1296.00

108.00

5.88%

2018

616.22

751.78

1368.00

114.00

5.56%

2019

642.60

785.40

1428.00

119.00

4.39%

Questions and Answers

Q. How do you bill for water?
A. Since the beginning of the water utility in 1855 most residential water customers have been charged for water and wastewater services on the basis of a flat-rate.  Customers pay the same amount for each residential unit regardless of the quantity of water used.  The flat-rate is considered inequitable by many because consumers with a low annual consumption subsidise households that used much more water.  Flat-rate water bills are sent out on a semi-annual basis, but a monthly budget plan can also be arranged.

On the other hand, industrial, commercial and institutional (ICI) customers are billed on a consumption basis; paying for what they use.   Water meters are read every two months with subsequent bills being issued.  A preauthorised, monthly budget plan is available for metered customers, but a year-end reconciliation is required to settle any differences in the estimated consumption.

What is a water meter?
A water meter is a measuring device installed on the water supply pipe where it enters the building.  They are precision devices capable of detecting minute flows of water.  The meters come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and designs, but for typical residential applications a 5/8” meter will meet the needs of most households.

Q. Why Saint John stopped the conversion of flat rate customers to water meters?
A. There has been a considerable increase in requests for conversion of flat-rate water and sewerage customers to metered billing. This is, in one way, encouraging. These people anticipate they will experience a reduction in utility costs by being charged on a measured basis; believing they are currently paying too much (and that others must be paying too little) for utility services.

Section 30(2) of the By-Law Respecting Water and Sewerage provides: "All water supplied to a property that is used for any purpose other than three or less dwelling units shall be paid for on the basis of quantities that have been measured by a water meter." This essentially states that all serviced properties will be charged on the basis of measured consumption, with the exception of residential properties of three (3) units or less. Residential customers are charged on a flat rate basis.

Over the years, conversion requests have been few. As such, handling a few additional metered accounts has been inconsequential to operations (meter reading and servicing). Unfortunately, this is no longer the case;inquiries are received on an almost daily basis. We have had to put any further conversions on hold - for very practical reasons.

Metering is a must for a 21st century community concerned about costs of service, the efficient utilization of water resources and the sustainability of those resources. A truly fair and equitable system of charges also requires that everyone is billed on the basis of an accurate measure of their consumption. However, the implementation and administration of metering also requires resources; and, with greater numbers, the use of technology becomes essential. This is the main reason for our need to deny further requests at this time. Meter supplies are limited, each installation has to be read and serviced, and billing and collection considerations come into play. We are unable to divert resources away from current ICI customers - to handle a large number of new residential metered users spread randomly across the community.

Implementation of the (universal) metering program needs to be well planned, fully resourced and carefully managed. We are talking about 15,000 or so new installations. Critical to this will be automated meter reading technology; a transition from manual reading to a reliable and automatic computer-based system. The system must handle a large amount of data, such that customers are charged properly, water use efficiency is realized,and utility revenues optimized.

Q. When will I receive my Saint John Water bill? What is the billing cycle?
A. Bills are issued twice a year:  the first billing period is for January 1 to June 30 and is due each the first week of April. The second bill is for the period July 1 to December 31 and is due the first week of October each year.   
Customers who choose to pay through equal monthly payments pay from March of the current year to February of the following year.   If there is a change in rates, this will be reflected on your water bill and the monthly payment is automatically adjusted in March.
Q. Can I pay this at my bank?
Yes, through Internet/Telephone Banking at all Canadian banks. Please ensure your payment is made 2-3 days before the due date to ensure we receive it by the due date to prevent late payment charges on your account.
Q. Can I make monthly payments?
A. Yes. Like many utilities and service providers, Saint John Water offers a pre-authorized payment option to allow customers to follow a monthly budgeted amount through pre-authorized debiting from your bank account.  Accounts set up for P.A.D. are penalty exempt and delinquency exempt.  Please contact our office at 652-1960 for details.
Q. What do I have to do if rates change in the New Year?
A. No action is required on your part if rates increase. By completing the equalized payment application, you authorize the City of Saint John to “process a debit equal to the monthly cost of water and sewerage services.” Your monthly payment will automatically be adjusted for any increase.  This will be reflected on your bill.
Q.  What if I prefer another method of payment and wish to end my pre-authorized payments to Saint John Water?
A. You can choose to end your pre-authorized payments at any time. In order to process this request, we require written notice instructing Saint John Water to end your payment plan.
Q. Why have I been charged a late payment charge?
A. Payments mailed or made to other agencies on the due date, may not reach us in time to prevent late payment charges. Please ensure your payment is made prior to the due date and allow 2-3 days for your payment to reach us.
Q. What if I can’t pay my bill?
A. Call us. We understand customers may experience periods of hardship such as illness or unemployment.  Payments can be adjusted for a period of time and then resume with an increase to ensure your account does not fall into arrears.
Q. What happens if my account does fall into arrears?
A. When your account falls into arrears, you risk having your water service shut off.

Property owners should be aware that arrears constitute a special lien against the property according to Section 117(9) of the Local Governance Act and these arrears would be recovered if the property changed ownership in the future. This means that the account balance remains with the property.

View historical water rates