A local water haulage business is concerned escalating water rates in Prince Edward County will drive them out of business.
In the 2016 budget, water and waste water rates increased by 34 percent from the previous year. The jump is based on a water and wastewater study performed by Watson and Associates as the county struggles to develop methods to pay for $100 million in infrastructure over 20 years.
“At this kind of rate I can’t compete with Trenton, Belleville, even Napanee is coming over to the County to deliver water for less,” Paul Bartlett, co-owner of Bartlett Bulk Water Services told the committee of the whole Thursday.
Bartlett and his wife Faith explained how the majority of their customers are vineyards and it costs them $4.13 a cubic meter to deliver compared to $2.13 in Belleville. The customer pays $1.98 per cubic meter with Bartlett.
He told the committee when he delivers the bill to customers he is met with raised eyebrows.
“We are going to have to start looking elsewhere to buy our water than the County,” said Bartlett. “We are having a hard time. We are a small business. We have always run our business out of the County. If I lose my business then the County will end up with no money coming out of here because no one is coming to the County to buy water.”
“Our water system is almost broke,” admitted councillor Kevin Gale. “If we had to charge what we need to pay the system off, the cost would be double or triple what it is now. At the end of the day it is going to get worse before it gets better.”
Councillor Jamie Forrester suggested a study be completed.
“If we are going to lose our water haulage companies and sewage from the business side, what is the break even point so that we don’t lose businesses in the county,” said Forrester.
From the budget discussions, a water and wastewater ADHOC committee was formed and is comprised of council, staff and the public to develop solutions.
They haven’t met yet but Commissioner of Public Works and Development Robert McAuley said a study could be looked at.
“From a break even point, the tax base may have to pay for it,” said McAuley. “You will have to look at the budget at which you created that rate.”
A meeting date hasn’t been set for the new ADHOC committee.
The committee received the Bartlett’s deputation.