The City of Moose Jaw and SaskWater have come to an agreement in a dispute over rural water rates.
SaskWater and the city entered into a Potable Water Supply Agreement in 2011 that City Manager Jim Puffalt said expires in November of 2021. “We've made no secret that the rates expire in November 2021 and that we'd be looking to increase the rates,” he said.
In 2017, the City found that city taxes were subsidizing the water rates for other users and not going to utilities. Then during the 2019 budget deliberations, City Council passed a motion to increase the water rates to 2.25 times the in-city rate.
“That, unfortunately, created a bit of a rate shock for the outlying areas and I know that they had had conversations with us and the province,” said Mayor Fraser Tolmie. “But I think that's where it sparked and initiated the conversation with SaskWater, can we come up with a different deal for them? And so that's what we're actually doing and improving.”
This week City Council approved a motion to authorize a reduction in the external water user rate charged to SaskWater to 1.875 times the City rate retroactive to June 1, 2019 and that any penalties incurred be waived.
The decision is tied to work SaskWater is doing to rehabilitate geothermal wells in the City, with SaskWater covering two-thirds of the cost of that work.