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History of Halifax Water

Our mission is to provide world class services for our customers and our environment

We exist to provide essential water, wastewater and stormwater services to our customers and to protect our natural environment for the betterment of Halifax municipality. We take this responsibility seriously and are driven to meet or exceed industry best practice.

Halifax Water's Vision

Halifax Water's guiding principles are:

  • Provide customers with high-quality water, wastewater, and stormwater services
  • Place the highest value on public health, customer service, fiscal responsibility, workplace safety and security, asset management, regulatory compliance, and stewardship of the environment
  • Fully engage employees through teamwork, innovation, and professional development
History of Halifax Water

Although Halifax Water’s present structure has existed since 1945, its creation was related to earlier events. As with any growing metropolis throughout the last century, the former City of Halifax had struggled to meet the ever-increasing demands of its residents for clean, safe drinking water.

In 1861, after serious degradation, the water supply system was purchased by the city from a private company and operated in one form or another for 75 years, without ever resolving its maintenance and wastage problems.

Installing a 24inch watermain on Dutch Village Rd in 1945

Ravaged by two World Wars and the Great Depression, by 1943, Halifax's water supply had deteriorated to a critical condition. Responding to a government-commissioned report on the need for a complete overhaul of the system, the city, on January 1, 1945, formed the Public Service Commission (renamed the Halifax Water Commission in 1987) to operate and manage the water utility.

Eight years later, in 1952, the Water Commission purchased the assets of the water system outright from the city of Halifax to ensure that the utility operated in a business-like manner. This business-like approach has enabled Halifax Water to continually improve and upgrade the water supply system by funding operational and capital expenditures directly from potable water and fire protection revenue, without any financial assistance from the municipal government.

Given a mandate to own and operate the city's water supply, Halifax Water has transformed the water supply system into a modern, efficient and financially sound operation providing high quality water and service to its customers. In 1977, the Pockwock water supply system was brought on line, on time and on budget. Through sound financial planning, the debt for the Pockwock system was retired in the year 2000.

On April 1, 1996, as a result of metro amalgamation, the Dartmouth and Halifax County water utilities were merged with the Halifax Water Commission, bringing with it, new challenges and opportunities. In response to a pressing need for high quality water in the Dartmouth area, the Commission constructed a new water treatment plant at Lake Major and associated transmission system. The project was completed in December, 1998, on time and on budget with minimal disruption to customers.

On August 1, 2007, the Commission expanded its mandate once again with the transfer of Halifax’s wastewater and stormwater assets to Halifax Water, and became the first regulated water, wastewater and stormwater utility in Canada.

With wastewater and stormwater governance established under the purview of the Halifax Water Board and the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board, the focus of Halifax Water is to improve asset management, secure stable funding, and meet Provincial and Federal regulatory requirements. The 2007 merger provided a sound framework to deliver water, wastewater and stormwater services in an integrated, cost effective, and environmentally sound manner. To that end, significant investments have and will continue to be made in these critical services for the betterment of the customers we serve and the environment we protect.

A Message From the General Manager
Halifax Water General Manager, Carl Yates

They say that history repeats itself. We hope this is the case for our customers with our expanded mandate as a "One Water" utility to deliver water, wastewater and stormwater services. In this situation, a reflection on Halifax Water’s storied history is warranted.

In 1945, the Halifax Regional Water Commission was given a mandate to operate and maintain the water supply system in Halifax after it was ravaged by the demands of two world wars and the neglect of the Great Depression. Of particular note, the system had a serious wastage problem, with 50 per cent of the water never reaching customers taps (leaking pipes were the culprit) and fire flows were a critical concern.

In 1996, the Commission expanded its mandate through municipal amalgamation, which saw the water utility assets of the City of Dartmouth and Halifax County Municipality transferred to the Halifax Regional Water Commission. Through adoption of international best practices, the utility again tackled water wastage and is now recognized as a world leader in water loss control. As a result of this and other milestones, like the construction of the Lake Major Water Supply Plant, the water supply system has been transformed into a modern, efficient, and financially sound structure providing high quality water and service to the residents of Halifax municipality.

On August 1, 2007, Halifax Water expanded its mandate once again as Halifax municipality transferred its wastewater and stormwater assets to the utility with the approval of the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board.

With wastewater and stormwater governance established under the purview of the Halifax Water Board and the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board, Halifax Water will focus on the renewal of aging infrastructure, meet new Federal wastewater regulations, and position the utility for service and growth. The utility is in an excellent position to deliver water, wastewater and stormwater services in an integrated, cost effective, and environmentally sound manner.

We have a tremendous amount of work ahead of us, and staff are up to the task. There is a significant infrastructure deficit associated with the wastewater and stormwater systems, and new Federal regulations require upgrades for protection of the environment. Similar to the efforts in water loss control that saw leakage reduced by 40 million litres per day, the utility is intent on becoming a world leader in wet weather management. Upgrades to the water, wastewater and stormwater systems are necessary to ensure long term sustainability such that your grandchildren will enjoy the benefits of a modern society. Taking a long term view has always been a trademark of Halifax Water; and history has shown that this bodes well for the customers. As stewards of these essential services, Halifax Water will continue the tradition of living up to customer expectations. We appreciate the goodwill of our customers through our changing mandates and look forward to continuing support as we strive to be a world class utility.

Please feel free to contact our office through this website or other media, and we will be sure to respond in a timely and professional manner.

Yours in service,

Carl D. Yates, M.A.Sc., P.Eng.
General Manager