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New year, new water bill for Pictou residents

Nova Scotia Minister of Municipal Affairs Chuck Porter, left, and Central Nova MP Sean Fraser, right were on hand Friday to help Pictou Mayor Jim Ryan officially open the town’s new water treatment plant.  The new system is expected to end the town’s brown water issues by removing the high levels of iron and magnesium from its ground water.
Nova Scotia Minister of Municipal Affairs Chuck Porter, left, and Central Nova MP Sean Fraser, right were on hand earlier this year to help Pictou Mayor Jim Ryan officially open the town’s new water treatment plant. The new system is expected to end the town’s brown water issues by removing the high levels of iron and magnesium from its ground water. - Sueann Musick

PICTOU, N.S.

Pictou residents will be billed differently in 2019.

Beginning in January, the Town will be billing residents by the quantity they use rather than a flat residential rate that was charged in the past.

Earlier this month, the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board approved the rates and change in billing.

“Residential homes will be billed based on consumption,” Pictou Mayor Jim Ryan said. 

The town has actually had meters installed in area homes for a couple years and to prepare for the changeover, the town has been ‘shadow billing’, to give residents an idea of what the cost could be in the future.

"I think it’s important that residents of the town recognize this as an opportunity to conserve an important resource – our water,” Ryan said.

Currently Pictou residents use an average of 68 cubic meters of water per househould per quarter, which is significantly higher than the provincial average which is 38 cubic metres per household per quarter.

Ryan said the high usage in the past may have had something to do with the poor water quality in the town prior to the completion of a new water treatment facility. The new water treatment facility has greatly improved the quality and colour of the water, he said. In the past, the town has had major issues with minerals such as manganese staining the water.

The rate residents will be paying to begin with is about average with the rest of the province, Ryan said. He expects rates will increase slightly over the coming years as people decrease their usage.

Something that the town has to take into consideration is the cost of paying for the water treatment plant. 

“Make no mistake, we have to pay for the water treatment plant," Ryan said. “Our overall revenues have to cover that. We can’t make money – we just have to pay the bills.”

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