Water & Sewer

Utility Bylaw 1511

New rules are now in place for Whitecourt utility services and systems, which include water, wastewater and stormwater.

A new bylaw was developed through extensive research and review of industry best practices; and the new bylaw will address evolving needs of our community.  Utility Bylaw 1511 came into effect on January 1, 2020 and includes additional regulations to protect not only the environment, but also municipal infrastructure and interests.

What's new?

All utility accounts will be transitioned into the property owner's name by December 31, 2020

  • To improve management practices, utility accounts currently in the tenant’s name will be transitioned to the property owner’s name.  To ensure service is not interrupted, the property owner must transfer the account at the Town Office by December 31, 2020.  There is no cost to transfer the account, and a Utility Account Application Agreement Form must be completed.  Accounts not transferred by December 31, 2020 will default to the registered property owner(s) on January 1, 2021.
  • Tenants with a utility account in their name will be responsible for the utility bill until the account is transitioned.
  • Once the account is transitioned to the property owner’s name, the property owner will be responsible for all utility bills, and can determine how best to transfer that cost to their tenants through rental agreements.  If requested (by completing the Duplicate Bill Request Form), the Town of Whitecourt will mail an additional copy of the utility bill to the tenant at the service address.
  • Accounts that remain in the tenant’s name on December 31, 2020 will either:
    • be closed and transitioned to the property owner’s name; or
    • be disconnected by the Town, with a fee of $40 for disconnection and an additional fee of $40 for reconnection charged to the property owner.

 Timeline to add outstanding utility balance to property account

  • The timeline for adding outstanding utiliity balances to the property tax account has changed to 90 days.

New industrial wastewater sampling and monitoring practices

  • New testing and monitoring practices will be implemented to help protect waterways and municipal infrastructure. Continued collaboration between the Town of Whitecourt, developers and industrial customers will help ensure prohibited substances are not introduced into the wastewater system, which has the potential to increase maintenance costs and cause other environmental concerns.
For more information on new Bylaw 1511 scroll to the bottom
of the page to review frequently asked questions.

Setting up a Utility Account

If you are moving, or setting up a utility account for the first time, you will be required to complete a Utility Account Agreement Application Form.  Once completed, visit the Town Office to open your account.  Forms are also available at the Town Office.

If you are opening a bulk water account, a deposit is required. Scroll down to the Bulk/Cardlock Water Purchases and Accounts section for current rates.

Utility Fee Schedule (effective January 1, 2020)

  • Water Service Charge: $7.59/month

  • Sewer Service Charge: $7.59/month

  • Water Consumption Charge: $1.27/cubic metre

  • Sewer Consumption Charge (based on 100% of water consumption): $1.41/cubic metre

  • Waste Collection: $9.92/month

  • Landfill Recovery Fee: $12.12/month

  • Residential Curbside Recycling Program: $8.88/month

Billing Procedures

Every residence has its own water meter, and as such are individually billed. Monthly water and sewer charges are based on consumption. So the more water you consume, the higher your utility charge. Try your best to conserve water to save yourself some money.

Each month you will receive a bill and payments are required on your utility account once every month. The Town Administration Office accepts cash, cheque, Interac, Visa and Mastercard. Bank, internet, telebank and pre-authorized payments are also accepted.

If the total balance is not paid, a 3.5% penalty is applied 30 days after the due date. Late payments will result in an arrears letter to remind you that your account is overdue. If the account is not paid within 10 days of this letter being mailed, your water service may be disconnected. If the water is disconnected there is an automatic $40 disconnection fee, and an additional fee of $40 for reconnection.

After 90 days, outstanding utility balances will be added to the property tax account for collection.

Returned payments are charged an additional $25.00. This includes returned cheques and returned pre-authorized payments.

Pre-Authorized Payment Plan for Utility Bills

You are encouraged to sign up for the Pre-Authorized Payment Plan for Utility Bills. To sign up for the plan, visit the Town Administration Office with a void cheque and fill out an application form. Each month you will receive a bill, but it will indicate that the payment is going to be made directly from your bank account on the 7th of each month, or the first banking day after the 7th.

Pre-Authorized Application Form

Moving Out?

Please inform the Utility Department in advance when you are moving out of your residence so that staff can be scheduled to take a final water meter reading on your last day in your home. If you are moving within Whitecourt, you will be required to complete a Utility Account Application Form for the new service address.  

Bulk/Cardlock Water Purchases and Accounts

The Town of Whitecourt now has a "cardlock" water system located at the pumphouse at the Water Treatment Plant. Accounts can be arranged through the Utility Clerk at the Town Administration Office at 780-778-2273. A deposit is required for every bulk/cardlock water account. Users are required to provide your own hose with a 3" male camlock end.

Fee Schedule (effective January 1, 2020)

  • Deposits:

    • Commercial $2,000.00

    • Residential $300.00

  • $56.33 for the first 14 cubic metres

  • $5.90/cubic metre from between 15 and 250m3

  • More than 250 cubic metres is charged at $10.42/m3

Be sure to cancel the account if you are no longer using it, as you will be charged the flat rate regardless of use and consumption. Invoices are produced monthly on the amount of water used.

Bylaw 1511 - Transition of Accounts

Bylaw 1511 requires all utility accounts to be in the name of the property owner. Utility accounts in the name of tenants must be transitioned to the name of the property owner.

1   Who will this affect?

The transition will principally affect tenants and rental property owners. This includes residential, commercial, industrial, and institutional rental properties.

2   I’m a property owner. What will the transition of accounts mean for me?

If you own your property and do not have any rental properties, or the rental properties’ utility accounts are already in your name, no further action is required.

If you own rental properties, you will need to coordinate the transition of utility accounts with your tenants. Select a transition date and fill out a Utility Account Agreement Application form.  Forms are also available at  the Town Office, and can be submitted between January 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020.

3   How will the town work with property owners and tenants during the transition?

To facilitate the transition, the Town may allow new utility accounts to be opened in the tenant’s name from January 1, 2020 until March 31, 2020. This will allow new tenants to have uninterrupted service, and will allow the property owners the time to draft new rental agreements.

No new utility accounts may be opened in a tenant’s name after March 31, 2020.

4   What happens if the utility account isn’t transitioned?

Any accounts remaining in the tenant’s name on November 15, 2020 will be sent a letter of notification reminding property owner that the account must be transitioned by December 31, 2020. Accounts that remain in the tenant’s name on December 31, 2020 will either: 

  • be closed and transitioned to the property owner’s name or;
  • be disconnected by the Town, with a fee of $40 for disconnection and an additional fee of $40 for reconnection charged to the property owner.

5   I’m a tenant. What will the transition of accounts mean for me?

If you’re a tenant and the utility account is currently in your name, you are responsible for the payment of utility bills until such time as the account is transitioned to the property owner’s name. Once the account is transitioned, a final bill will be issued. The utility account deposit, along with any outstanding balances, will be applied to the final bill. If the deposit does not cover the final bill, you are responsible to pay the remainder. Any portion of the final bill that remains unpaid will be sent to collections.

As a tenant, you will need to coordinate the transition with the owner of the property. The property owner may fill in the Utility Account Agreement Application form, and may request a copy of the utility bill be sent to the service address (by completing the Duplicate Bill Request Form). The accounts must be transitioned between January 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020.

6   How will billing change for rental properties after the accounts are transitioned?

Per Utility Bylaw 1511, the property owner is liable for all applicable fees. If requested by the property owner, the Town of Whitecourt can send an additional copy of the utility bill to the service  address (a Duplicate Bill Request Form must be completed). Tenants are permitted to pay the utility bills, but ultimately the property owner is responsible for the utility charges.

After the account is transitioned into the property owner’s name, if a bill remains unpaid after 90 days, the balance will be transferred to the property owner’s tax account.

Bylaw 1511 - Timeline to add oustanding utility balance to property tax account

1   What does it mean?

The timeline to resolve the non-payment of utility bills has changed. Any outstanding utility account balances will be charged to the owner’s property tax account after 90 days.

2   When will this come into effect?

This new timeline will come into effect after January 1, 2020, or after the account is transitioned into the property owner’s name.

Bylaw 1511 - Access to premises

1   The Town updated the rules about access to premises. Why would the Town need to access my property?

The Town may enter a premises for the purpose of providing, maintaining or terminating the supply of a utility service to the property. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Final meter reading and inspection
  • Meter repair
  • Equipment inspection
  • Water and Wastewater Sampling

2   How will I know if the Town wants to access my home or business?

The Town will provide reasonable notice to the owner or occupant of the premises, by placing a door hanger on the residence.

3   What happens if I refuse entry?

If the Town can’t access the meter, shut off valve, or curb stop for any reason, a no access fee will be charged. If there is an obstruction that prevents access, the Town may remove the obstruction.

Bylaw 1511 - Wastewater Sampling and Monitoring

1   Does wastewater sampling and monitoring apply to me?

If your building discharges to the town’s wastewater collection system, these requirements will apply. Monitoring and sampling will be focused on, but not limited to, commercial and industrial properties.

2   What is the purpose of wastewater sampling and monitoring?

When prohibited substances enter the wastewater collection system, they can cause blockages, backups, environmental concerns, unpleasant odours, and damage to piping/equipment/buildings, which increases maintenance costs. The Town seeks to eliminate the discharge of prohibited substances at the source.

3   What are prohibited substances?

Prohibited substances include, but are not limited to:

  • High concentrations of chemicals, acids, bases, cleaners;
  • Suspended solids, like grit material (small loose particles of sand, stone, clay) from carwashes, garages, shop/commercial sumps;
  • Grease, oil, fat, and grease trap waste;
  • Hydrocarbons;
  • Dangerous goods, toxic waste, hazardous waste, reactive waste, and radioactive waste.

4   How can the amount of prohibited substances entering the wastewater collection system be reduced?

Education:

Starting in spring of 2020, the Town will begin an onsite educational campaign to familiarize property owners with how to properly care for and maintain the sumps, grease traps, and other components of the wastewater collection system within their property. The campaigns will also provide information about what would be required during an inspection, and how to ensure the wastewater components meet the town’s requirements.

Ultimately, the amount of prohibited substances entering the wastewater collection system can be reduced by ensuring every building’s wastewater components and discharge materials are acceptable.

Monitoring and Sampling:

Official inspections of premises will begin in 2021 to ensure acceptable wastewater is discharged to the Town’s wastewater collection system. Samples may be collected from properties to ensure compliance with the town’s requirements. Penalties up to $3,000 may be issued for noncompliance.

Improved Building Practices:

New developments may be required to integrate additional counter-measures to ensure prohibited substances are not discharged into the wastewater collection system. This may include sampling ports and monitoring access points.

5   How will the improved building practices affect new developments?

For new and proposed developments, strategies to reduce the discharge of prohibited substances may be integrated into the design prior to construction. The Town will collaborate with developers and/or property owners to develop strategies that are mutually beneficial, on a case-by-case basis.

For example, a Monitoring Access Point (MAP) may be installed on new developments to improve sampling and monitoring practices. If it isn’t possible to install an MAP, a sampling port is required for the following businesses:

  • dental office,
  • businesses using photographic processing equipment,
  • dry cleaners,
  • vehicle washing,
  • any other businesses identified by the Town.

Do you have questions about your utility bill, preauthorized or online payments? Contact the Utility Clerk at 780-778-2273.