By Connor Simonds, Local Journalism Initiative reporter
The proposed 2023 water/wastewater rate for Markham is $4.7937 per cubic metre, which is an increase of 3.8 per cent.
The Environmental Services Department in Markham plays a crucial role in managing a large portion of the city’s right-of-way assets valued at $7.6 billion, including water, wastewater, stormwater, bridges, culverts, streetlights, watercourses, and erosion sites.
The department provides water service to more than 83,000 residential and commercial customers, with an annual consumption of close to 30 million cubic meters.
To ensure high-quality drinking water, the department operates under the Quality Management System that complies with the Ministry of Environment, Conservation, and Parks’ Drinking Water Quality Management Standard.
The department also promotes its waterworks services, including virtual water outreach education programs for schools and proactive capital programs for managing water assets such as leak detection and water main replacement.
Markham does not operate its own water filtration plant or wastewater treatment plant, instead purchasing these services through York Region. The total water and wastewater rate increases in Markham have historically ranged from 3.3 to 7.9 per cent. Residents pay a per cubic metre rate (1,000 litres) for their water usage.
Implementation of the 2023 water/wastewater rates will take effect on April 1.
The water and wastewater rates in Markham are comprised of a number of different components, including the Region’s Wholesale Rate, Non-Revenue Water, Operating Expenditures, and Reserve Contribution. Understanding these components can help residents better understand the cost of their water usage and the services they receive.
York Region’s Wholesale Rate: The York Region’s Wholesale Rate is the cost that Markham pays to buy water from York Region. This includes the cost of water purchased from the City of Toronto and the Region of Peel, which is then passed on to Markham. York Region approved an annual rate increase of 3.3 per cent for the wholesale rate from 2022 to 2027, which is reflected in Markham’s water/wastewater rate. In 2023, Markham’s Region’s Wholesale Rate is $3.2806 per cubic metre, which is 68 per cent of the total water/wastewater rate.
Non-Revenue Water: The cost of water that is used but not billed to the customer is included in the Non-Revenue Water component of the rate. This cost accounts for the amount of water that is lost due to leaks, theft, or other issues.
Operating Expenditures: The Operating Expenditures component of the rate is the funding needed to operate, maintain, and upkeep the water and wastewater systems. This includes the cost of running the systems on a day-to-day basis and making necessary repairs.
Reserve Contribution: The Reserve Contribution component of the rate is the funding used for long-term infrastructure rehabilitation and replacement. This component is necessary to ensure that the city’s water and wastewater systems are able to provide safe and reliable services to residents in the future. In 2023, the Reserve Contribution component is $0.6049 per cubic metre, which is an increase of $0.1774 per cubic metre from the previous year. The increase is due to Markham’s decision to maintain its 2020 and 2021 water and wastewater rates at the 2019 level, which resulted in a shortfall in the city’s reserve study. The proposed 2023 water/wastewater rate for Markham is $4.7937 per cubic metre, which is an increase of 3.8 per cent or $0.1774 per cubic metre from the previous year. This increase is due to the approved 4-year rate phase-in starting in 2023, which includes an incremental rate increase of 0.4 per cent (or $0.0196 per cubic metre) each year.