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.  Only property owners are permitted to open accounts (utility accounts for all rental properties must be in the property owner's name).  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 Fees (effective January 1, 2022)

  • Water Service Charge: $8.37/month

  • Sewer Service Charge: $8.37/month

  • Water Consumption Charge: $1.44/cubic metre

  • Sewer Consumption Charge (based on 100% of water consumption): $1.44/cubic metre

  • Waste Collection: $9.36/month

  • Landfill Recovery Fee: $12.77/month

  • Residential Curbside Recycling Program:$10.46/month

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.

Late payments will result in an arrears letter to remind you that your account is overdue.  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.

If you need to change the mailing address linked to your account, complete the Change of Address Form and submit it to the Whitecourt Utility Clerk.

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

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.

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, 2022)

  • Deposits:

    • Commercial $2,000.00

    • Residential $300.00

  • $63.87 for the first 14 cubic metres

  • $6.69/cubic metre from between 15 and 250m3

  • More than 250 cubic metres is charged at $11.81/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.

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 must be in the property owner's name

  • The property owner is 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.

 Timeline to add outstanding utility balance to property account

  • The timeline for adding outstanding utility 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.

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

In 2016, the Town of Whitecourt completed a master plan for the Wastewater Treatment Plant which involved two components:

  • A technical review of the plant design, capacity and operations

  • Public consultation and education

Stantec Consulting completed the technical review which included:

  • A review of the plant, the original design in relation to how it is currently performing/operating.

  • A review of the generation of sludge and what can be done to minimize it.

  • A review of how we handle gravel and other inert materials.

  • Recommendation on changes to the plant that can be increase capacity and address odour concerns.  This included an assessment on how new processes will impact current and future operating and capital budgets.

November 28, 2016 Presentation to Council

What is the Town of Whitecourt doing now to mitigate odours?

Stantec is building upon recommendations and findings outlined in the Master Plan.  A sampling program has been conducted, and a report back to Council is anticipated in the early fall of 2019.

In the last several years the Town of Whitecourt has:

  • Restricted the septic waste arriving at the wastewater treatment plant;

  • Relocated the truck dump station to the plant and placed controls on its use;

  • Implemented an odour control program which includes the monitoring/testing/injection of Biomax to control H2S generation;

  • Implemented a monitoring program for the detection of H2S on properties adjacent to the plant;

  • Changed the operating practices of the plant to control odours generated by the digesters;

  • Planted over 300 trees in an effort to establish a green buffer between the lagoon and residents;

  • Incorporated information to assist residents with proper use of the sanitary sewer system into promotional materials;

  • A new Utilities bylaw is being drafted that will enhance the ability of the Town to control the use of the sanitary sewer collection system (to be presented to the Policies and Prioriites Committee in early fall of 2019).

What causes odour?

Odours generated from anaerobic processes (i.e. without oxygen) are far more offensive than those generated from aerobic processes (i.e. with oxygen).

Other sources of odour/causes of odour:

  • agriculture

  • sludge hauling (industrial)

  • wastewater trunk lines

  • oilfield activities

Sources of Odour

Sludge Storage Cells

  • Open to the atmosphere, located west of the wastewater treatment plant.

  • Based on a study conducted by Stantec , the main source of odour from the property is from the sludge storage cells.

  • Odours from the cells are typically highest in early summer and taper off into the fall season.

  • Colder temperatures reduce biological activity and the onset of ice cover prevents the release of gases and associated odours.

  • Removal of biosolids from the cells (typically done in late October) can result in short-term odour issues due to agitation associated with the trucks loading.

Wastewater Treatment Plant

  • Normally a low odour source, musty smell, and somewhat continuous.

  • Odour will vary in relation to what the facility is receiving.

  • Excessive amounts of inert material (i.e. sand, gravel, non-biodegradable materials) can accumulate in the treatment processes and impair the overall performance resulting in a high level of odour from the storage cells.

Sump Pit Materials Testing Incentive Program

Whitecourt’s Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) is designed to treat organic materials. Unfortunately, unexpected grit materials (e.g., small loose particles of sand, stone, clay, silt from carwashes, shops/commercial sumps) are entering the wastewater system resulting in blockages, backups, environmental concerns, unpleasant odours, and damage to piping/ equipment/other structures, which increases maintenance costs.

The Town seeks to reduce and eventually eliminate the discharge of grit materials and prohibited substances at the source, and will be working with local businesses to educate them on what materials can be released into the Town's wastewater system, and how inorganic materials can effect the system.

To encourage businesses, the Town offers a Testing Incentive Program to those businesses that would cover 50% or up to $250 of the sump pit material testing costs annually. Eligible businesses will need to provide testing results and copy of their invoices for reimbursement to the Town. 

Prevent problems in the pipes - know where your wastewater goes

Help keep your household plumbing and our wastewater treatment plant working properly.  Please don't use toilets, sinks or storm drains to dispose of garbage.

  • The only items that should be flushed are human waste and toilet paper.   Toilet paper is designed to decompose and quickly breaks down in water.
  • It is equally important to pay attention to what you are disposing of in your sinks and tub.  Even a dishwasher or washing machine can be a source of costly sewer back-ups.  Follow manufacturers' directions and do not exceed the recommended amounts of soap.
  • Unlike the sanitary sewer system, water entering storm sewers is not treated and drains directly into areas along Beaver Creek, the McLeod and Athabasca Rivers.  Contaminated water can kill fish and other wildlife, as well as pollute areas next to these bodies of water.

It may say flushable - but don't flush it!

Disposable wipes may be labeled "flushable" but they don't break down in the sewer system and can get clogged in your household plumbing.  If wipes make it to the collection system in your neighbourhood, they can back up sewer collection lines and clog pump stations.

clogged-image

Help make our sewer system fat free!

Grease tends to harden and cause other items to get stuck, creating clogs.  Fats also tend to cling to the sides of pipes and create a build-up over time, which eventually leads to a large blockage.

  • Store it - pour grease/oil/fat into a can or glass jar with a lid and store until full; then dispose with your garbage.
  • Wipe residual grease from dishes, pots and pans with disposable paper towel prior to washing the dishes.

 

clogged restaurant sewer line

The Unflushables

The following items should NOT be disposed of in your toilet or sinks or storm water drains:

  • fats, oils and grease
  • chemicals, oils and paints
  • wipes - disposable and disinfecting wipes - including "flushable"
  • bandages and wraps
  • sanitary products
  • condoms
  • extinguished cigarettes
  • cotton balls, pads and swabs
  • dental floss
  • hair
  •  paper towels and napkins
  • disposable diapers and baby wipes
  • disposable toilet brushes and cleaning sponges
  • medications (you may drop off unused or expired medications at your local pharmacy for proper disposal)
  • coffee grinds, egg shells, and food
  • cat litter
 
For more tips on how you can prevent a sewer backup, read through the "Guide to Sewer Backups" information brochure.

Frequently Asked Questions

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.

If a bill remains unpaid after 90 days, the balance of the utility account will be transferred to the property owner’s tax account.

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

  • 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.

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.

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.