• FAQs

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Frequently Asked Questions
 
 
 
 
 


Timing
 
When will the system begin operating?
The system has begun operating at limited capacity and will soon be in full operation.
 
Is there a schedule for when each household will hook up to the system?
No, there is no set schedule for connecting. You can hook up as soon as the service is fully operational, as long as your property is ready and the RM has installed a meter. 
 
Will homes in Phase 1 be able to hook up before homes in Phase 2?
Construction has been completed for both Phase 1 and Phase 2, so homes in both areas can begin using the system as soon as it is in full operation. 
 
What is the deadline to begin using the system?
The deadline is set by the provincial government. Under provincial regulations, residents in the service area are mandated to connect within five years of the system beginning operation.
 
If your home is sold before it's connected, the new owner will have two years to hook up to the system following transfer of title.
 
When and how should I start to prepare?
The first step is to contact a qualified contractor to determine what work will be required on your property. Please see the Hiring a Contractor Fact Sheet for a list of approved companies and other facts to keep in mind.
 
Fees
 
ALL FEES
 
What are all the different types of fees I should be aware of?

There are three types of fees:
  • The local improvement fee covers the cost of building the public infrastructure. This fee is $7,264.37 per parcel. Unless you've already prepaid this fee, an additional charge of $504 will be added to your tax bill every year. The first annual payment will be due with property taxes in the fall of 2021.
  • The City of Winnipeg connection fee will be paid when you're ready to connect to the system. The fee will be $2,680 for properties connecting in 2021. The fee will rise to $3,000 in 2022 and to $3,100 in 2023. The City charges this one-time buy-in or connection fee to all municipalities using the City wastewater infrastructure. You will pay this fee to the R.M. of St. Andrews, which will then forward the funds to the City. You must pay this fee before you connect.
  • Quarterly utility bills will be issued after you begin using the system. For a two to three person household, the quarterly utility bill will be about $200 to $250 per quarter, depending on the volume of wastewater generated.
For a complete overview of property owners' costs and fees, you can download a fact sheet showing all fees in one chart. 
 
Besides the fees, what other costs will I be responsible for?
You'll be responsible for the work and equipment needed to collect wastewater on your property and move it to the curbstop. The RM will provide the meter and a standard installation at no additional cost, as well as the pre-hook-up inspection. However, you may be responsible for any additional work required if conditions on your property make meter installation more difficult.
 
After you connect, you'll receive quarterly utility bills.
 
What fees will I pay in 2021 if I connect?
If you connect to the system in 2021, you will pay three types of fees this year:
 
 LOCAL IMPROVEMENT FEE  $504 added to your annual property tax bill (assuming you didn't prepay the full fee in April 2021)
 CITY OF WINNIPEG CONNECTION FEE  $2,680 (or more in later years) 
 QUARTERLY UTILITY BILLS  Will vary by household 

What fees will I pay in 2021 if I DON'T connect?
If you don't connect in 2021, you will pay one fee this year:
 
 LOCAL IMPROVEMENT FEE  $504 added to your annual property tax bill (assuming you didn't prepay the full fee in April 2021)

Once you're connected, you'll begin paying quarterly utility bills.
 
LOCAL IMPROVEMENT FEES
 
What is the local improvement fee for?
The local improvement fee covers the cost of building the public infrastructure - that is, the lift stations, forcemain and other conveyance equipment. Each household in the service area will pay an equal portion of the total cost, which works out to $7,264.37 per parcel. Unless you've already prepaid this fee, a payment of $504 a year will be added to your annual property tax bill, starting in 2021.
 
Do I have to pay the local improvement fee if I don't plan to hook to the system for awhile?
Yes. The local improvement fee is due for all properties at the same time, regardless of when the owner plans to hook up to the system. Many residents have chosen to pay this fee with their property tax bill over a 20-year period.
 
Can I still pay the local improvement fee in one lump sum?
No, the deadline to prepay in one lump sum has passed. For those who didn't prepay, the RM will automatically set up 20-year time payments with annual property tax bills. An additional charge of $504 will be added to your tax bill starting in 2021.
 
What happens if I finance the local improvement fee on my property taxes, but sell the property before the 20-year term is up?
The new owner would be responsible for the remaining annual payments. You would need to inform the buyer of this obligation while negotiating the sale.
 
Why is the fee lower than expected?
A combination of low interest rates, provincial assistance and other efficiencies meant the project was $89,000 under budget when completed. Also, there are now 21 more houses in the service area than expected, which allows costs to be spread out over more properties.
 
CITY OF WINNIPEG CONNECTION FEE
 
What is the City of Winnipeg connection fee for?
The City of Winnipeg charges this one-time buy-in or connection fee to all municipalities using the City wastewater infrastructure. This fee buys the right to use some of the City's sewage treatment capacity.
 
When will I need to pay the City of Winnipeg connection fee? How do I pay it?
You must pay the connection fee when you're ready to hook up to the system. You will pay the fee to the R.M. of St. Andrews, which will then forward the funds to the City.
 
Several payment options are available. You can pay in person, online through your bank or you can give your cheque to the person who does your pre-hook-up inspection. Please write the roll number of your property on your cheque, or reference it with your online payment.
 
How much will this fee be after the first year?
The City of Winnipeg connection fee will be $2,680 in 2021. It will rise to $3,000 in 2022 and $3,100 in 2023.
 
UTILITY BILLS
 
What will my utility rates be?
The Public Utilities Board (PUB) has approved these initial interim wastewater rates for the South St. Andrews Wastewater Utility as set out in By-Law No. 4350.
 
   2021  2022
 Quarterly Service Charge    $80.82      $80.82   
 Wastewater (per cubic meter)     $3.57    $3.57
 Minimum Quarterly Charge *   $130.80      $130.80   
 Utilities buy-in Charge $2,680.00 $3,000.00
       *Based on 14 cubic meters     
 
When will my utility bills arrive?
Utility bills will be mailed out in January, April, July and October of each year to homes connected to the system.
 
SPECIAL SERVICE LEVY
 
What happened to the Special Service Levy on unconnected properties?
Council had planned to introduce a Special Service Levy on unconnected properties as a way of keeping utility rates reasonable during early years of operation. Council made that decision in February 2021 using the best information available at the time. However, several months later, when more actual numbers (versus estimates) could be used in financial calculations, it became clear that the Special Service Levy would not be needed. Therefore, Council decided in June 2021 to set aside the plan for the levy.
 
Why didn't the RM know this before?
Early cost-revenue estimates for the system were necessarily based on many assumptions about factors beyond the RM's control. For example, what would interest rates be in the future? When would households migrate over to the new system and begin paying usage fees? Would residents want to pay their Local Improvement fee right away, or over a 20-year period with their property taxes? These factors and more have a significant impact on the bottom line for this project, and were impossible to forecast with certainty.
 
As a large project like this nears completion, future costs and revenues can be calculated using more actual numbers instead of "best guesses". By May, it became clear that this utility could almost break even without the aid of the Special Service Levy and without having to charge high rates, even during the early years of operation. The difference was due to actual numbers that couldn't be factored in earlier because they weren't yet available.
 
Which financial factor made the difference?
The big one was how residents chose to pay the Local Improvement fee, which is $7,264 for each property in the service area. Here's why this will make such a difference to actual annual operating revenues, versus previous estimates:
  • In earlier estimates, it was assumed that about 40% of households would choose to pay the fee in one lump sum, and that 60% would choose to pay the fee over a period of 20 years with their property taxes.
  • In reality, only about 18% of households have chosen to pay the fee in one lump sum. That means 82% of households will make an annual payment of $504. These payments are considered utility revenue under Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), and will close the gap between utility revenues and expenses.
This difference in actual-versus-estimated revenue flow wasn't known until after the deadline for paying the Local Improvement fee in one lump sum, which was April 28, 2021. After finances were recalculated with the latest numbers, Council decided the Special Service Levy would not be needed.
 
Getting your property ready
 
How can I find out more about how to prepare my property for connection?
The first step is to contact a qualified contractor to determine what work will be required on your property. Please see the Getting Your Property Ready page for a list of approved companies. You'll also find a fact sheet on technical requirements.
 
What steps will I take when I'm ready to hook up?
  1. Complete any work required on your property to connect your septic system (tank or field) to the municipal collection system. This work is typically done by a private contractor.
  2. Arrange to get your meter installed, if you haven't already done so.
  3. Call the RM to arrange for a pre-hook-up inspection. If the connection doesn't pass, you'll need to correct the deficiencies and ask for a second inspection.
  4. Pay the RM of St. Andrews for the City of Winnipeg fee ($2,680 in 2021, or more in later years). You can give your cheque to the inspector at the time of inspection, if that's convenient for you.
  5. The inspector will provide a date and time for the switch-over from your current system to the municipal system. This work may need to be coordinated between the RM and your contractor.
  6. Once the switch-over is completed, you'll be using the municipal system.
How do I arrange for an inspection?
To schedule a date and time, you can submit a Service Request through www.rmofstandrews.com or contact the RM office at (204) 738-2076.
 
When can inspections be done?
You can make an appointment for a time that fits your schedule – in the early morning, during the day or on a weekend. But first, you have to prepare your property and have a water meter installed.
 
What will happen during the inspection?
The person doing the inspection will make sure you have:
  • a two-compartment tank
  • no build-up of solids 
  • a backwater valve (if the pump is in the house)
If your water softener discharges outside, the inspector will also check to make sure the discharge is going to an environmentally approved area. 
 
Could more work be required after the inspection?
It’s difficult to say until the inspection is completed, since all homes are different. 

On most properties, no further work will be required. On the day of start-up, the RM will just open up the shut-off valve, and the homeowner will flip the switch to turn on the pump.

In other cases, some additional work may be required. For example, if your pump is in the tank, you may have to adjust the flange so wastewater is directed away from the septic field and toward the municipal system. In other cases, some digging may be required to make the connection. 
 
What are provincial requirements to connect to the new wastewater system?
Refer to Sections 8.1(1) and 8.1(2) of the Onsite Wastewater Management Systems Regulation
 
Water Meters
 
How can I arrange for a water meter installation?
Please contact the RM office by using the service request form or by calling 204-738-2076.  There is no additional charge for the meter and a standard installation.
 
Please note that some situations may create the need for additional work. If so, these costs may be the responsibility of the property owner.
 
Where is my meter located and what does it measure?
The meter measures the amount of water flowing into a home through the incoming water pipe. Nearly all of this water will leave the home through drains and toilets – therefore, measuring water inflow is a practical way to determine wastewater outflow.

In our system, it’s standard to install the meter after the point where the water line branches off to the outside tap. This ensures that the meter records only the water headed into your home – not the water flowing to your outside tap for outdoor uses. 

When you’re ready to have a meter installed, you can talk to the installer about any concerns you may have about the planned location for the meter. In some cases, existing plumbing may be configured in a way that makes it very difficult to locate the meter beyond the line leading to the outside tap – and if so, you may want to consider relocating the line. Additional plumbing may also be needed to work around outside lines, water softeners and other equipment. 

Please keep in mind that you may be responsible for any additional work required beyond a standard installation.
 
Why can't the meter be placed so that it measures the outflow from the septic tank?
Measuring inflow, rather than outflow, is a practical way for municipal utilities to measure the volume of wastewater generated by each property. Virtually all water going into a home goes out through drains and toilets – therefore, the volume of water entering a home is a good indicator of how much wastewater will end up in the municipal system. 

It’s also more economical to measure clean water flowing in, rather than effluent flowing out. The equipment costs far less, lasts longer and is easier to get at and maintain. 

Who pays for the meter and its installation?
There is no additional charge for the metering equipment and a standard installation. 

Most times, a standard installation is all that is required. However, additional work is sometimes needed, and the homeowner may be responsible for these costs. The installer will point out any situations of this kind.
 
Where are the metering requirements specified?
Metering requirements for the South St. Andrews system are specified in By-law No. 4291, which was passed by Council in October 2018. The by-law states that a meter must be installed so that it measures all water supplied to a property by a well, unless the well water can be used only for irrigation. 
 
How will my meter be read?
The RM will use radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology to make the process more efficient and hassle-free. Instead of entering homes to check meters, RM staff will do drive-by readings using wireless scanners. The system will also flag unusually high or low readings so homeowners can be alerted to the possibility of a leaky toilet or other problem. 
 
What about the backwash from softener systems and other water conditioners? If these systems discharge outside, the backwash doesn't go into the wastewater system. Will it still be measured?
Discharge from water softeners is considered wastewater. If the softener is discharged outside, rather than to the sewer pipe, it may be possible to install the meter after the softener. However, the backwash must end up in an environmentally approved discharge area. This means the homeowner must ensure that the discharge remains on the property. Letting softener discharge run into a public ditch is a bad practice.
 
What about water used by geothermal systems?
Geothermal systems draw water ahead of the meter. Therefore, the water they use is not metered.
 
What is the meter testing charge for?
This fee would be charged only if a homeowner asked to have their meter checked for accuracy. It would be refunded if the test showed significant inaccuracies that resulted in overpayment.
 
For most homes, the testing fee would be $100. For properties with larger pipes (such as commercial buildings), the fee would be $250. The fee would be paid in advance, along with any other meter testing costs.
 
The fee and other costs would be waived if the test showed that the meter recorded water flows more than 3% higher than the actual flow. The fee would then be refunded and the RM would take action to correct the meter. The RM would also review the homeowner's account and adjust past billings accordingly.
 
What is the meter tampering charge?
This is a fine that would be charged if the RM discovered that a meter had been tampered with after installation. The charge would be $500. 
 
About the system
 
Why do we need this system?
The system will assist South St. Andrews residents as they make the transition from septic fields to more environmentally friendly ways of managing household waste. As aging septic fields fail, they increase the risk of leaching, odour, backup and exposure to harmful substances. Land near the Red River is also environmentally sensitive, which has prompted the provincial government to prohibit new and replacement septic fields in the Red River Corridor designated area.

This means all homes in the designated area will eventually have to replace septic fields with holding tanks, which will need frequent costly pump-outs. By providing a convenient system to carry the wastewater portion of sewage away, we can greatly reduce the frequency with which holding tanks will need to be emptied. In this way, we can help residents do their part to protect the well-being of our natural environment for future generations and improve home resale values.
 
How is the South St. Andrews Wastewater System affected by the City of Winnipeg's concerns about sewage treatment capacity?
The City of Winnipeg has capacity to treat wastewater from our new system. Under our 10-year agreement, Winnipeg will provide wastewater treatment services for up to 1,800 households in South St. Andrews. At current rates of growth, this is more than adequate to handle the community's needs.

It’s also important to note that our system won’t significantly contribute to the volume of sludge treated at the Winnipeg plant, since our system will deliver wastewater with solids already separated in residential holding tanks.
 
That said, waste management capacity is a long-term concern for Winnipeg and many other municipalities. That's why Winnipeg is embarking on a major expansion of its North End Treatment Plan. At the current schedule, the expansion is expected to be completed within eight years.

Here in St. Andrews, we’re also taking forward-looking action to ensure our long-term needs will be met. We’re currently developing a wastewater management strategy for the entire municipality. Engineers have been contracted to help us with the planning.
 
Is it true that provincial legislation says water softener discharge shouldn't enter a municipal water treatment system?
Provincial legislation says that softener discharge water can affect biological breakdown in an "on-site wastewater management system” such as a septic tank and septic field. 

However, there are different considerations when wastewater is headed to a treatment plant. The presence of water softener discharge in our wastewater will have no impact on operations at the Winnipeg treatment plant. In fact, it could actually be beneficial to our system because it may reduce the need to use chemical pre-treatments before wastewater is sent to the treatment plant.