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Council seeks to merge three water utilities

Cumberland municipal council has approved a water rate study that would see the county’s three water utilities in Parrsboro, Pugwash and Springhill merged into one if approved by the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board.

Under the present system, each utility has operational and accounting records maintained separately. Three separate financial statements are prepared, they have three separate rate structure and three separate water rate applications to the utility and review board.

Pugwash and Parrsboro are fully metered while Springhill has commercial customers metered.

The study by Gerry Isenor and Blaine Rooney presented estimated average customer water rates for three standalone water utilities compared to customer water rates for a single Cumberland County water utility, including an option to fully meter all customers in Springhill.

Many municipalities in Nova Scotia have combined their separate systems into a single county-wide utility, including West Hants, Antigonish County, Inverness County, Victoria County and Annapolis County.

The consultants said water meters have the benefit in that customers can influence their water bills through lower consumption and promote environment stewardship by reducing household water wastage.

A public hearing, as required by the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board, is part of the process.