With the recent historic floods experienced across the GTA, Toronto plumbers have had their hands full with basement flooding and related problems. One of the issues that’s taken priority with city councils is the storm water system, and in Mississauga councillors recently approved a new “storm water fee” that is expected to bring in up to $27 million a year. The money is sorely needed to improve the city’s infrastructure that handles storm water run-off and help reduce the number of homes flooded with each big storm. Toronto is considering implementing a similar fee, according to an article in the Toronto Star.

How Much Will You Pay?

The new fee takes effect in 2016, provided it is ratified at the mid-December council meeting. Homeowners will be expected to cough up between $66 and $132 extra a year, depending on the size of your lot. By taking steps to reduce storm run-off, you’ll be able to get a slight reduction on the fee in the form of a coupon or voucher, or a one-time tax rebate. These steps could include measures such as the use of rain barrels to catch some of the water, which reduces the amount flowing into the city’s storm water system.

Businesses Will Pay, Too

Commercial properties will be hit with the storm water fee too, based on a rate of $94 per 2,900 square feet of surface land. This is the same rate used to calculate the fee amounts for private homes, although it’s unclear at this stage how apartment buildings and condominiums will be affected. Businesses will have the option to find ways to reduce the run-off and receive credits, but it seems that under these new rules, all Missisaugans are going to have to pay up.

Rising Water Rates

When this fee hits Toronto it will be over and above the continually-rising water rates, which have been going up by 9 percent per year for the past 9 years based on a former council decision. The agreement ends in 2014 but is slated to be replaced by an increase of 8 percent per year for the years 2015 to 2017. If a storm water fee comes in around 2016, the average household using 300 cubic metres of water per year will pay around $1209 per year instead of the current $808, which is a 66 percent jump in 4 years.

Staying Dollar-Wise

Your best bet for keeping costs down is to avoid being penny-wise and pound (dollar) foolish. Making sure your storm drainage system is working properly is the first step towards reducing your risk of expensive flooding. You may not be able to control the amount of water flowing into the city’s system, but regular drain camera inspections will help you to avoid damage such as tree roots, debris and broken pipes, which all cause havoc in the storm water system and could result in storm waters backing up to your home and causing basement flooding. That will not only cost you repairs to your own drainage system but could also involve deductibles for flood repairs, higher insurance premiums and a higher storm water fee when it comes into play.