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Expect to pay more for water in 2013. And beyond

Friday, December 14, 2012   by: Darren Taylor

The average PUC residential customer will pay more for water in 2013.

The PUC Board approved the utilities’ 2013 budget at its meeting Thursday.

The average residential customer will pay an extra $2.67 a month for water use, a 10 percent increase.

The increase takes effect January 1, 2013.

The PUC says water rates will keep increasing by 10 percent every year from 2013 to 2017. 

After 2017, the PUC forecasts 5 percent increases annually.

Other highlights of the PUC budget report show capital expenditures for improvements and upgrades peaked at $7.85 million in 2009, when the City of Sault Ste. Marie, PUC Inc.’s sole shareholder, received infrastructure funding from senior levels of government.

Capital expenditures for improvements and upgrades will stand at $5.44 million in the 2013 budget.

PUC officials stated Thursday they hope to see capital expenditures reach the $10 million mark by 2018 in order to replace some municipal pipes that are up to 60 years old.

The budget statement for 2013 shows $16.2 million is expected to come in from PUC customers in 2013.

PUC President and CEO Brian Curran told the Board: “The increases are pretty much the same across Ontario. There’s no way of getting around it.”

Curran added: “There is no profit here (from the water rate increase). All the money goes back into the system.”

In other PUC business discussed Thursday, the Board and staff discussed the ongoing tap water situation in Sault Ste. Marie.

The PUC has carried out a conversion to free chlorine, leading to a host of public complaints about objectionable taste and smell of the water.

PUC Vice-President of Operations and Engineering Dominic Parrella told the Board the process of taming the taste and odour successfully continues, though he added: “We continue to respond to some specific calls around the city.”

Data from an IPSOS Reid telephone survey gathering opinions of the tap water from 1,000 Sault PUC customers conducted in November is now being analyzed, with the results of that survey to be released in February.

It was also announced that sale of the existing PUC office building at 765 Queen Street East seems near.

President and CEO Curran told the Board: “There are a number of interested buyers, and an offer will be made near the end of the month. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get a sale fairly quickly.”

Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
RLE 12/14/2012 10:23:51 AM Report

The $100,000 donation and the multi-million dollar facility is even more irritating now, particularly when Mr. Parella states, "the process of taming the taste and odour successfully continues" He is, in my opinion, either living in a dream world or is being less than truthful.
Boomboom 12/14/2012 10:25:03 AM Report

...this will raise some comments.
kodak11 12/14/2012 10:26:05 AM Report

They have to pay for that building on 2nd line that has over run the origional cost.
Aerobow 12/14/2012 10:35:58 AM Report

Our water used to be the best in the world and now is only marginal at best. The bright side is that we get to pay more for it. The more water you use the more you pay for the sewer rates as well. So I guess that is going up too! PUC Sucks!
beak 12/14/2012 10:39:05 AM Report

wow...i don't usually comment but

Sault Ste. Marie is becoming an increasingly expensive place to live


inflation sure has a presence in this little town.

Time to move haha
KMF61MCF 12/14/2012 10:39:12 AM Report

Try and get a 10% increase in a cost of living raise from our Employers to help pay for the 10% its going to cost to pay this increase rotflmao FAT CHANCE.Gouge and screw the consumers!!
Hatch 12/14/2012 10:40:30 AM Report

Ohh I get it now. Everything would be going up even more if they didn't build the $25,000,000 cost saving building.
B Boy 12/14/2012 10:44:04 AM Report

Aerobow: "Our water used to be the best in the world..."

Where do you guys get these ideas from? The Soo drinking water was decently average but definitely not "the best in the world".
I've had drinking water in the US that was tapped right from an aquifer. Not that was nice & natural tasting drinking water without the heavy chloramine.

I think you'd been listening too much to the local propaganda.
Ski-Dude 12/14/2012 10:45:34 AM Report

Another reason I'm glad to be on a well. Wonder how the PUC water rates compare to other cities similar to ours....
port 12/14/2012 10:48:08 AM Report

Makes perfect sense to me!

They ruin our water, they charge us more for it, they build new elaborate offices, they donate money, they bypass city council on decisions ......

People...The Corporation of the City of Sault Ste. Marie is the sole shareholder of the PUC. That makes each and everyone one of us shareholders.

Contact your city council ward representative by email, by phone, however you can and let them know how you feel about the PUC.

Give council a shot at fixing the problems. I believe most of them are just as concerned as you are. They live here too.
crashed13 12/14/2012 10:53:48 AM Report

People complaining about the water taste.

I can,t tell the differance between the water from my tap and the bottled water from the store.
debo 12/14/2012 10:54:31 AM Report

Saultites have every right to be OUTRAGED at the conduct of the the PUC in the last few years. New building, lavish "gifting" to outside entities, a rate hike and CRAP...CRAP...CRAP tasting water. The PUC Board and how it operates needs to be held accountable (see future elections).

And the claim that the issues concerning our water are being addressed "successfully" smells and tastes worse than the water we now get.
blkpanther 12/14/2012 10:55:30 AM Report

I am so glad I am on well water. I can deal with a little iron in it. When I visit friend/relitives in town it seems they all have brita or water bottles for drinking now and for good reason as I definintly notice how bad it has gotten in town. I would use that water to flush my toilets though i'm not sure it's worth 10% more.
Truck 12/14/2012 10:56:37 AM Report

"the process of taming the taste and odour successfully continues"

This guy is on another planet!! Take a look at the sootoday poll from last week!! Could have saved yourself the cost of a phone survey to 1000 residents that you choose to call!! Customer appreciation and service are at the low end of the priority pool at PUC! Wake up Parella!! %70 - %80 of your customers are unhappy with your product!!
debo 12/14/2012 10:59:35 AM Report


I remember that more than a year ago on this site it was stated that SOOTODAY was always looking for suggestions regarding worthwhile polls.
book-end 12/14/2012 11:05:03 AM Report

I would imagine that it is reasons such as this, that we seen a demonstration like we did yesterday. The person on disability or OW gets a increase each year of something like $1.....yet utilities ( water rates), raise by $2.67 per month for the next 3 or 4 years, then factor in the sewage charge that goes along with it and who knows how much electricity is going to go up over that period and Landlords are allowed to raise rents by something like 4% . Talk about a fiscal cliff for those who can least afford it !
guestwho 12/14/2012 11:16:24 AM Report

just had a talk the other day ,about "paying down the debt" that PUC started,getting to be like income tax,temporarily permanent!!
Kevin5069 12/14/2012 11:17:45 AM Report

More donations required?
Otto1 12/14/2012 11:37:48 AM Report

"all the money goes back into the system" In other words, right down the F'n drain.
DOMAR 12/14/2012 11:40:46 AM Report

Kidding me. We need a major revolution in this city and country. Build a new multi million dollar office facility when we sure did not need one and then start raising water rates and power rates. I say no more and lets protest this crap. PUC and City hall remind me of the man in a suit and tie at the soup kitchen.
keeper 12/14/2012 11:50:04 AM Report

Yah, and remember that $2.67 is then doubled by your sewage charge, so actually the increase is $5.34 automatically, does not matter if it goes down the house drain or on your lawn.
ThinkAgain 12/14/2012 11:54:23 AM Report

My lawn will look like a desert from now on and my neighbours may complain but no more watering the lawn, no more flowers. Let the weeds takeover, may make a nice fence.
B Boy 12/14/2012 12:06:26 PM Report

Combine this with how our taxes are going up significantly because of the skewed MPAC assessments.

Now I regret working so hard to make my house look nice, what's the point it just screws me over and costs me more to make the city look nicer.

Screw that - ghetto all the way from now on, I won't even pick up my dog's poop anymore (even though there's already enough poop flowing around this city already).
ThinkAgain 12/14/2012 12:09:04 PM Report

Another big kick in the pants for Seniors and Disabled people. I see now why there are so many street people in places like Toronto. This city is getting expensive to live considering the things we are stuck with: "Like smelly bad tasting water"
Havey 12/14/2012 12:33:12 PM Report

I think we all knew that at some point in time we would have to start to pay for the $100,000.00 gift as well as the new building that they just had to have.

Now it also appears that the best property for Algoma University will be a supposed outdated PUC building on Queen Street. If the building was not able to meet the PUC's needs then how can it now be so suitable to be utilized for classrooms. Wouldn't that require costly renovations, or maybe the PUC will give Algoma University another money gift from their surplus to help offset these costs. The PUC can then recoup these costs by raising our rates in 2014.

Wisenheimer 12/14/2012 12:33:31 PM Report

We live on the shores of the largest fresh water lake in the world ... Who's bull shitting who? The 100 grand should have gone to preventative maintenance not some do-gooder alderperson's pet project.
cing babe 12/14/2012 12:33:56 PM Report

I really do not mind paying the increase if I could drink the water like I use to. Since I have to purchase water for I drink at least 10 bottles a day as it is the only thing I drink. I think this would be outrages to have to pay for something they told us would be odor free and tasteless once the systems were all flushed out. I still have a very strong chlorine smell and taste coming from the water that has been ongoing and showing no signs of evaporating at to the PUC you may go ahead and increase the cost of my water if you want but I think it would be silly since I will send you the bills for the bottled water I now have to drink.
teets 12/14/2012 12:36:59 PM Report

Nothing is free , not even the faucet brita filters that I now have to purchase to filter out the stink and discolouration !
RLE 12/14/2012 12:59:59 PM Report

We have the expensive disaster that is P.U.C. Then we have the CAO getting an award that it can be debated he did not deserve and the Conservation authority's questionable decision to allow a new Avery subdivision--A decision that has an odour stronger than our drinking water after Frank Manzo pointed out that board member Ken Lamming and Avery are related.

Question: Is there anyone administering anything that falls under public administration that can be trusted to make an informed impartial decision?

11111111 12/14/2012 1:06:37 PM Report

Doing the math, it'll only take 9 years for the rates to double. I doubt many people's wages will double in that same time period (or in their entire career for that matter). Another squeeze on the middle class...
Job Developer 12/14/2012 1:16:13 PM Report

How does the PUC justify an increase of this size for this year and years to come. What ever happened to fiscal responsibilty. What ever happened to deliver a good product for a fair price. If you live in the city your only choice is to pay the piper. Its time the piper answered to the people.
Number One Son 12/14/2012 2:14:45 PM Report

People were mocking the Occupy Movement last year, ... but this is what it is all about folks. We will get screwed until we have a revolution. Buy stock in petroleum jelly, because everyone is going to take it up the , ....
budguy 12/14/2012 2:26:41 PM Report

omg this is too funny....thank god I have a well and only have to put up with the electricity side of PUC...what an joke. PUC should be completely ashamed of themselves but seeing how they have never been in the past I don't see that changing anytime soon. Just SAD
moem 12/14/2012 2:41:46 PM Report

I used 41 cents worth of water last month and paid 41 more dollars in fees and service charges to do it!! How can they possibly justify this increase???
Laser 12/14/2012 2:46:46 PM Report

pass the vasaline
Boop 12/14/2012 2:55:21 PM Report

Forty years ago we most Certainly did Have the best water in the Country! Of course I am comparing it to Toronto Water!!
Every month when the PUC Bill comes in I am floored that it costs me $40.00 or more to use $4.00 worth of water. Now you tell me I gonna pay even MORE...something is wrong with this picture... and once again the consumer gets screwed...
Right of Centre 12/14/2012 3:02:58 PM Report

It would be nice if PUC could give more detail than a 10% increase, annually, on "water use". Is this an increase of the City Sewer Charge? Water Consumption? Basic Service Charge? Or a combination of the above? Since my family's water consumption charge this past month was 10.96, and we are an average family of four, I expect this increase goes beyond the consumption charge.
Right of Centre 12/14/2012 3:23:34 PM Report

From PUC’s website:

Metered Water Rates

2012 - 41.0 cents per cubic metre for the first 15 cubic metres for each 1 month period
2013 - 45.1 cents

2012- 1.203 dollars per cubic metre for the next 250 cubic metres for each 1 month period
2013 - 1.32 dollars

2012 - 87.1 cents per cubic metre for the remainder of water consumption
2013 - 95.9 cents

Monthly basic service charge (services less than 1 1/2 inch)

2012 - 18.06
2013 - 19.87

City sewage charges, per PUC website, are equal to Water Consumption and Basic Service Charge. This revenue is passed along 100% to the City. This means that the City Sewage Charge will also rise by 10%, as mentioned above.

Based on my current bill, using the same amount of water:

2012 - 58.04
2013 - 63.84
2014 - 70.23
2015 - 77.25
2016 - 84.98
2017 - 93.47
bulletcards 12/14/2012 4:00:27 PM Report

I would be happy to pay a little extra to keep the infrastructure updated and running effiecent, if there wasn't glaring wastes of money. A nice new huge office building, making our water taste like chemicals, a huge donation to a non charity. all this in a time where we have weekly black outs and failing water and electrical infastructure. Why is it that business' all accross Canada are down sizing everything because they can't afford it, but yet our PUC has apparent endless amounts of money to throw around?
doggs 12/14/2012 4:02:04 PM Report

The PUC are CROOKS ...My water bill was $ 4.18 ..Sewage Bill was $ 22.68 ...WHAT IS THAT '''now they are raising the Water Rates '''No Justification at all ...We the Paying public ...Should Shut off the water ,for a week on & OFF ...use Public facilities ...Where are OUR CITY COUNCILORS ...FATA & BRUNI whom are on The PUC BOARD ''''You will never get my vote Again '''
Trinculo 12/14/2012 4:10:49 PM Report

Time to put in an septic and well
daddy frank 12/14/2012 4:29:12 PM Report

we all b--ch and complain,but do nothing about it. oh we write our comments here, we talk about it to each other, but thats it. we should be calling the PUC until their phones are to hot to handle, call your alderman over and over until they get tired of hearing from u, call the mayor over and over until she gets tired hearing from u and remember to tell them u will not vote for them at the next election. what this PUC is getting away with I think borders on fraud and might be illegal.
daddy frank
CIA 12/14/2012 4:39:46 PM Report

PUC has another construction project on the go on Wawanosh Avenue
moem 12/14/2012 5:06:57 PM Report

Toronto water tastes and smells better than ours!!

To the people with wells that are grateful they only pay for electricity.... Look at your bill see what you use, and what you pay for... You will notice you pay extra, call them, I did, you are paying for leakage between the source and your home as they know that with outdated equipment a certain amount "leaks" they have decided to pass that cost on to all customers!!! Crooks!!!
nanci 12/14/2012 5:26:40 PM Report

Lets really PROTEST!
STOP showering, stop washing clothes, do like the bear in the woods. That'll teach em!
bounder 12/14/2012 6:24:55 PM Report

Free water,2 line and Goulais ,all you want.Just rig up a 250 gallon tank.
Tom_Bom 12/14/2012 7:39:41 PM Report

Okay so I just want to make sure I have this straight. First they ruin our water and make it taste terrible, causing some of us to question drinking it, and others not to drink it at all. Now they want to charge us more for it in the coming years.

Makes sense right?

Honestly I know people that have switched to either bottled water, or those big water dispensers that have the huge jugs because they refuse to drink the city's water. I even got myself a brita filter because i can't stand it.

But I guess that's the trend. As time goes on, the cost of living goes up. Can't get a chocolate bar for a nickel any more.
Working Man 12/14/2012 7:40:49 PM Report

A whole additional $30/year!! You gotta be kidding me!!!!
moem 12/14/2012 8:44:36 PM Report

I think it's more about the principle than the amount...... more money and no improved service!!! And if union gas, bell, rogers, reliance, etc make these increases it will really start to add up....

To those thinking about conserving water, don't bother, if you're using cold it really don't cost that much it's the service fees that jack your bill feel free to water your lawn and garden... Your fees will be about 40 bucks whether you conserve or you don't...
AceOfBass 12/14/2012 10:54:41 PM Report

We have three City Councillors on the PUC board.
Not a peep out these Board members.They are there to be our voice on this Board.

What is the purpose of having City Councilors on the PUC board if they never say anything or question the other members of the board?

I would be demanding an explanation from these Board members of why they allowed this to happen.

We need PUC board members who are on this board for the people not the Suits at the PUC.

We need to clean house at the PUC and fire the Senior Staff and replace them with new Blood.
doogg 12/14/2012 11:00:46 PM Report

Another point of interest is when PUC turned over the rental of hot water tanks etc. to reliance. The rate increased over 100% over night. There are so many things that have occured under the present PUC group that maybe the top position should be an elected position. If that were the case these individuals would be held more accountable. The next election would decide if he or she did their job.
Mermaid 12/14/2012 11:23:20 PM Report

Have any of you checked out water/sewerage rates in other municipalities? Fact is SSM PUC is and will remain in the lowest 1/3 of the province for both rates. Even paying 90 bucks in 2017,is lower than the majority of the province pays now in 2012. As for taste and smell, I don't notice it. I did the first day or two but its been fine in my area over the last year. And, just wondering if any of you called the PUC for an explanation of the increase, or if you just decided to whine on sootoday again? Doesn't seem to get you anywhere by whining on here. Just say in.
R Earl 12/14/2012 11:42:28 PM Report

How absurd to suggest that a more than 60% increase in rates over 5 years is outside of their control and in line with the rest of Ontario.

I think port summed up the situation nicely, except for giving council a chance ... 3 members of council already sit on the Board.

Perhaps the regulatory changes coming January 1 will prompt a management shakeup before we have a major crisis. Under Section 19 of the Safe Drinking Water Act, those responsible for our drinking water system (including members of council) will be personally liable for failures to meet statutory standards of care. We can hope this will affect change, but it's more likely our rates will just go up some more to pay for insurance to cover this liability.

Mermaid 12/14/2012 11:57:41 PM Report

Well, the only fault of the PUC is that they didn't charge enough over the last ten years to maintain infrastructure. Now we've gotten used to lower than average water/sewerage rates that have to be rapidly increased to upgrade older systems. Seriously, any other city or town in the province pays much more of a basic service charge for both services as well as more per cubic metre of water used. Majority of municipalities charge over 100% of the water rate per cubic metre for sewage. I'm not defending PUC but, if anyone looks at the rates across the province in any detail, they'll see we are paying much less than the majority.
Coo1 12/15/2012 10:50:32 AM Report

In a time were a majority of Sault Ste. Marie people are living paycheck to paycheck to survive. Where people are excited if they have even $1 left in their bank accounts after their mortgage and other bills are paid...this is a travesty to those people.

Even if it was only the commercialized $2 hike, which is a lie and a pretty way of attempting to make the increase seem 'not so bad, most people don't get that sort of wage increase. And lets be honest, start telling the truth, that hike is going to be more like a $10 to $12 increase once you add on the other items they aren't telling us about.

We need to fight to stop this. We need to protest, we need to say NO!

And we need a major who actually owns a house, pays taxes, and knows what its like to pay bills other than just rent, that will work and fight for us when a corporation that has monopoly over us tries to take our hard earned money.
Working Man 12/15/2012 1:04:34 PM Report

If you can't afford a house, don't purchase one. If you live paycheck to paycheck, you can't afford it.

Finances are only difficult for single people; especially if they have children, drug addicts, or people on welfare/disability.

Otherwise life isn't all that hard. If you live paycheck to paycheck, then stop drinking and doing drugs. Find other sources of entertainment, stop buying so much junk that you can't afford, stop eating out 3 times per week, etc. There is so much that you can do to help yourself. It's not always the governments fault.
moem 12/15/2012 8:42:02 PM Report

What a crock working man... First of all a lot of tenants pay their own utilities... Secondly lots of people work and do without and still find it difficult to make ends meet, yes even couples who both work and don't eat out, do drugs or drink... For a working man you sure don't have a lot of compassion.....
moem 12/15/2012 8:47:05 PM Report

And mermaid

Sault ste Marie rents are cheaper than a lot of cities too but if suddenly they increased 10% people would still have the right to be upset by it. Just because other cities pay more doesn't mean it's okay that they increase the Soo whilst financing their building and providing a terrible service... Lots of cities also have better paying jobs with benefits too and social programs that we don't have.. And let's not forget they have water you can drink that doesn't stink like bleach!!
Coo1 12/15/2012 9:10:08 PM Report

Working man, I happen to be a landlord so I get to see what the working poor of our town live like. Not all, as you so ignorantly would like to portray, are alcoholics and junkies. Most of the people I house are working for minimum wage jobs(look around, most jobs in the Soo are min. wage). They have children, they have normal expenses. I do not see frivolous spending from most of these hard working people, yet they struggle.

So anyone, not ignorant and insensitive to other human beings like Working man obviously is, can see how an increase in PUC is utter robbery not only to the poor but to the rest of us.

They have made our water disgusting, built a new building, given a hundred thousand dollars away and now they wish to take more from us.... NOT right. I say No. This should be fought against and we should fight hard to stop it.

The only people in this winning idiot idea are those who are getting their pockets lined and we sure know how that works in the Soo, don't we. Jerks.

MikeQ 12/17/2012 7:51:48 AM Report

@ Working Man,
You're an idiot. I am married, don't drink or smoke, don't gamble, and I budget my finances. My wife and I both work. But we have university debts to pay for, we are paying for the wedding we have, and we have a mortgage with outrageous PUC bills every month, along with rediculous tax bills for such an average home. My income tax is through the roof, and I have a child on the way... explain to me why I'm obviously a problemed person, if I don't have much left between paycheque to paycheque, because last I heard, this is everything you're supposed to do.. it's part of life if you have to deal with this government. You're ignorant and misinformed.
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