Town of Rossburn Water Supply and Rates
Prior to 2018, the water supply for the approximately 285 residences, businesses, and institutions of the Town of Rossburn was drawn from the local aquafer, treated in the Rossburn water treatment plant and distributed to customers. In 2016, Council was faced with the decision to either upgrade the Water Plant at a cost of over $1,000,000, or join a regional water system built with significant financial assistance from the federal and provincial governments.
In 2018, the agreement was finalized to connect to the Russell Binscarth Regional Water Treatment Plant. Our portion of the capital cost of $498,725 was paid for through a 20-year debenture. Customers are charged a rate of $5.18 per 1,000 gallons of usage to cover the 20 annual loan payments. Currently (2021), we pay the regional water system $12.17 per 1,000 gallons for the water supplied to us with an approximate annual cost is $110,000 to 115,000. The only treatment that is required before it is distributed to our customer is chlorination.
The Municipality is required to complete utility rate studies to ensure that the user rates are sufficient to cover the utility operating and capital costs. Because of this additional water cost and that there had been no water rate increase since 2010, the Municipality in 2020 applied to the Public Utilities Board (PUB) for a rate increase. The PUB approved a rate increase effective October 1, 2021. While it is a very significant increase, it is required to cover the new costs associated with the regional water line supply and general cost increases over the last 11 years.
Select the links below for details of PUB orders and Town of Rossburn Water Rate By-Law:
Sunset Point Water Supply and Rates
The Sunset Point Water Treatment Plant and distribution system was installed in 2007 by the developer and gifted to the Municipality in 2009. The historical PUB-approved rates, in accordance with the Municipality’s requests, have been insufficient to cover the costs of operating the system. The Sunset Point water system began with 4 users in 2011 to approximately 26 in 2020.
In 2020, the PUB approved a large increase in the annual rates. Due to the small number of users connected to the system, the annual rate is now a flat $981.20. As of the end of 2020, there is an accumulated deficit of about $150,000, which the PUB has ordered us to recover (with no option for a deferral), primarily through a rate rider on the annual water bill. We have a deficit recovery plan filed with the PUB and are waiting for a response.
The Municipality recognizes that the Sunset Water System is not financially viable and we have studied several options. The challenge is compounded by the fact that the Province has ordered us to update the system to remove manganese to regulatory levels at a cost of approximately $100,000 plus. We have submitted an application for funding through the Water Services Board to assist with a plan to upgrade the plant and work together on a plan to make the system viable.
Select the links below for details of the PUB orders and Sunset Point Water Rate By-Law:
Water System Operation and Provincial Compliance
The Municipality must comply with provincial regulations for water quality standards for the Town and Sunset Point public water systems. The Municipality is required to have a valid operating license for its water systems. The applicable provincial standards and their associated monitoring, testing, and reporting requirements are specified in the operating licence. The Province of Manitoba also requires our water systems be operated by a certified operator which involves education, examination, and required experience. Regulation requires that a public utility fund itself, that is, tax revenue cannot be used to fund the utility’s operations and utilities have their own separate budget and financial statement and schedule within the Municipality’s Consolidated Financial Statements.
Select the links below for Municipality’s water systems annual audit compliance reports.
Rossman Lake Seasonal Water Supply and Rates
The Rossman Lake Water Treatment Plant (the "Cornwall Plant”), provides water from May to September for cottages, campers and businesses on the south and east sides of Rossman Lake. Water quality testing must be done as with a year-round system, but the regulations are currently less stringent – for example, manganese content is not currently regulated but that may change.
Rates for seasonal water systems are not regulated by the PUB. The municipality therefore calculates the operating costs and sets rates for cottages accordingly. Water rates for campers are reflected in their annual lease charges. Operating costs are significantly lower than Town of Rossburn and Sunset Point as it is a seasonal system and is not subject to the same strict regulatory requirements.