I want to:

 

What the Board does:

The Board regulates approximately 50 water utilities in the province. That includes:

  • Approving the rates charged and the general terms for providing service.
  • Approving spending on capital items (e.g., equipment, pipes, buildings) with a value of:
    • $250,000 or more for utilities with revenues up to $100 million
    • $1,000,000 or more for utilities with revenue over $100 million
  • Considering complaints from customers such as:
    • rate charged was incorrect
    • utility did not follow its approved terms for providing service
    • water meter was not read correctly
    • utility did not provide service at all

What the Board does NOT do:

The Board does not regulate:

  • Bottled water providers
  • Water services provided by landlords (e.g., trailer parks or malls where the landlord provides the water)
  • Some private subdivisions
  • Some water services provided by the Province of Nova Scotia, Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal
  • Private water systems

The Board is NOT responsible for inspection or testing of water to ensure it is safe.  That is done by inspectors at the provincial Department of Environment.  More information here.

Setting rates for water:

The Board must approve rates which allow the utility to provide safe and adequate water service.  The Act allows utilities to recover the following in rates:

  • Operating expenses – where they are reasonable and prudent
  • Cost of equipment, pipes, and other capital purchases (i.e., annual depreciation)
  • A reasonable return or profit on the value of property used to provide water service

Rates are set for each category of customer based on the cost of providing the type of service.  The Act requires that rates will be the same for all customers receiving the same type of service.

When a utility feels a change in rates is needed, they apply to the Board for approval.  A notice of the proposed change will be put in one or more newspapers.  The notice will also describe how to participate in the process.  Generally, a public hearing will be held in the municipality served by the utility. 

More information on the process for setting rates is included here.

Participating in Board Proceedings

When a utility makes an application to the Board you can participate in the proceeding as a customer if you choose to do so.  You can:

  • Ask to speak at the hearing,
  • Write a letter of comment, OR
  • File as a participant in the hearing (an “intervenor”) which can include submitting evidence, presenting witnesses, and cross-examining witnesses of other participants.

Information on upcoming hearings for water utilities can be found here.  Information on all applications, including the related documents, can be found here.

Appealing the Board’s Decision

Board decisions can be appealed to the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal within 30 days of the date of the decision.  Or, if an Order is issued, you can appeal within 30 days of the date of the Order.

Acts, Regulations, and Rules

The following acts, regulations, and rules apply to the Board’s work on water utilities: