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Frequently Asked Questions & Answers About Water Bills

Q. What will the average family pay for water in 2018 compared to 2017?

A: The average household consumes 200 cubic metres of water per year. In 2017 the total cost was $1,118. For 2018 the cost will be $1,151. This represents an increase of 3% or $33 annually. Each household receives four water bills per year so for each bill the increase will be about $8.25 compared to 2017 billings.

Q. Why have the water rates increased?

A: Water Authorities in Ontario have been mandated by Provincial legislation to prepare plans to raise adequate financial resources to provide safe drinking water today and into the future. Our water rate structure reflects the fixed costs of operating and maintaining the water system and has been designed to be equitable, easy to understand and to benefit customers who conserve.

Q. What are the highlights of the 2018 water rates for a single family home?

A: For all single detached residential buildings and semi-detached residential buildings that are individually metered, the water rate structure will consist of:

  • A fixed cost of $0.755 per day ($276 per year)
  • A volumetric charge of $1.652 for every cubic metre of water consumed
  • The sewer rate at 90% of the total fixed and volumetric charges. 

Q. What are the highlights of the 2018 water rates for all other customers?

A: For all other customers the water rate structure will consist of: 

  • A fixed cost based on meter size
  • A volumetric charge of $1.018 for every cubic metre of water consumed
  • The sewer rate at 90% of the total fixed and volumetric charges. 

Q. How will my bill be calculated for the three-month period that includes water consumed at the old and new rates?

A: Water bills for three months that end April 30 or May 31 will have the increase phased in to reflect the portions of the billing at the old and new rates. 

Q. What do the terms ‘fixed cost’ and ‘volumetric charge’ refer to?

A: The fixed cost supports the infrastructure that delivers water to your home. The volumetric charge refers to the charge for the volume or amount of water that you use. 

Q. What is the ‘sewer rate’?

A: The sewer rate is 90% of the total water fixed cost and the volumetric charge. The sewer rate applies to all water customers who are connected to the sewage system. The sewer rate supports the collection and treatment of wastewater from homes and businesses.

Q. How do Thunder Bay rates compare with rates in other cities?

A: Rates in Thunder Bay are in the mid-range relative to other municipalities across the province. An independent survey undertaken by BMA Consulting in 2017 revealed that the annual cost of 200 cubic metres of water ranged from a low of $432 to a high of $2,263 with the average being $1,028. In 2017 Thunder Bay’s average annual cost for 200 cubic metres was $1,118.

Q.How much water is used daily in an average Thunder Bay home?

A: An average household consumes .55 cubic metres a day (120 gallons), which is 50 cubic metres in a three-month billing period.

Q. What can I do to conserve water?

A: Water is lost due to leaking faucets, old water-guzzling toilets, and excessive outdoor watering. Practise the 3Rs of wise water use:

  • Reduce – Become aware of the amount of water you’re using and look for ways to use less
  • Retrofit – Replace water-guzzling toilets and appliances with more water-efficient models, or retrofit existing appliances with water-saving devices
  • Repair – Stop the leaks! In one year, a leak of just one drip per second wastes 14 cubic metres (3,000 gallons) of water. Running toilets should be repaired. A leaking toilet can waste hundreds of cubic metres of water a month and is the number one cause of high water bills.

Q. Are my water meter readings obtained by the City for every billing?

A: No. Customers without an outside remote are responsible to submit meter readings every three months between the 1st and the 21st. Your water meter is located inside your home.

Q. Why is it important to submit my water meter readings to the City?

A: Water meter readings ensure your bill is based on actual consumption. When readings are not received, your consumption is estimated and you may be over or under billed. All bills are calculated using rates in effect at time of billing. If your water consumption is being estimated, any difference in consumption identified upon receiving a meter reading will be billed at current rates. Consistent, actual readings may also help you identify plumbing leaks early and save you money.

Q. When do I submit my water meter reading?

A: Customers without an outside remote are responsible to submit meter readings every three months. The water bill you receive indicates the month that we require your next meter reading between the 1st and the 21st. Please look for the "IMPORTANT NOTICE" section on your quarterly water bill. To set up reminders by text, phone or email for your readings and bill due dates go to

Q. Do billing charges continue if my property is vacant?

A: Yes. If your property will be vacant for an extended period, billing charges continue unless the meter is removed and water is turned off at the street. To request meter removal contact our office at 625-2255.