The City of Barrie owns and manages assets that support the supply, treatment, storage, transmission and distribution of safe drinking water. As Barrie continues to grow responsibly, ensuring our water network remains in good shape, and can continue to service our increasing number of residents and visitors, is key.
By July 1, 2025, the City is required by the Province to outline the costs, risks and benefits of providing different levels of service, including for the delivery of safe drinking water.
To deliver safe drinking water city-wide, the City relies on a network of water assets, including a surface water treatment plant, wells, storage towers and reservoirs, pumping stations, watermains, valves, hydrants and meters. As of 2021, the City owns more than $1.3 billion in water assets, which include:
- 1 surface water treatment plant
- 12 wells
- 3 underground reservoirs
- 3 water towers
- 7 pumping stations
- 643 km of watermains
- 3,832 hydrants
- 6,777 valves and 129 valve chambers
- 72 pressure reducing valves (PRV) and 32 PRV chambers
- 45,135 water meters
The City’s network of water assets is expected to grow by more than $250 million over the next 10 years, to an estimated total of more than $1.5 billion by 2031.
The State of our Water Assets
As of 2021, 90.6% of the City’s water assets are generally in fair or better condition. This means the City has some time to plan and take preventative measures before more of our water assets need major maintenance or replacement (which comes at a higher cost). Some current areas of concern:
- 4.8% or $62.4 million of our water assets are in poor or very poor condition (nearing the end of their life). Those in very poor condition, which are due or overdue for replacement, include:
- Watermains ($7.7 million)
- Water meters ($6.9 million)
- PRV chambers ($6.1 million)
- Pumping station components ($4.2 million)
- Rowers and reservoirs ($0.6 million)
- Wells ($0.1 million)
- $9.49 million of water assets currently pose extreme risk and need to be actively managed and prioritized to reduce the potential of health and safety, environmental, financial, and service delivery consequences. These assets include:
- A 1.5 km segment of a transmission main along Ferndale Road, from Tiffin Street to Ardagh Road. The segment is currently shut down
- The building electrical and mechanical systems at different pumping stations (e.g., Leacock).
- 80% of the City’s water assets were built within the last three decades and these assets will continue to age together. By tracking these assets and pro-actively investing in their maintenance and replacement at the right time, the City can save money and prevent service interruptions.
The Cost of Water Management
To maintain proper water management, the City should ideally spend more money on water assets than what is available in the budget. There is a gap between the amount available for spending and the amount needed to properly maintain our water assets and the services they provide.
Water Asset Funding (Annual Average, 2021–30)
|Budgeted City of Barrie funding:||$38.4M / year|
|Actual funding needed to sustain service*||$44.6M / year|
|Funding gap:||$6.2M / year|
Breakdown of Needed Water Spending (Annual Average, 2021–30)
|Lifecycle Activity||Budgeted Funding||Spending Needed||Funding|
|Growth & Upgrades|
New infrastructure projects are required to support growth, while certain upgrades are needed for infrastructure to meet current standards.
|$8.45M / year||$9.7M / year||$1.25M / year|
As assets near the end of their life, they need to be rehabilitated or renewed.
|$7.19M / year||$9.4M / year||$2.23M / year|
|Operations & Maintenance|
Assets need ongoing operation and maintenance work to function.
|$22.81M / year||$25.5M / year||$2.72 M / year|
To meet Barrie’s growth, an additional $1.25 million per year is needed over what has already been budgeted by the City. This additional funding would allow the City to:
- Sufficiently construct new assets in the Salem and Hewitt’s Secondary Plan Area
- Expand assets in already established neighbourhoods (e.g., watermains and the Anne Street pumping station)
- Upgrade assets (e.g., well upgrades and the installation of solar panels on the surface water treatment plant)
Assets in very poor condition, as well as high-risk assets, also need financial support. For instance:
- $7.7 million of watermains are in very poor condition and need to be replaced. As those watermains are replaced, it is estimated that $2.7 million worth of hydrants, valves and valve chambers connected to those watermains will also need replacing.
Regarding operations and maintenance, some additional funding is needed to ensure water services continue to be delivered effectively. These additional funds would cover new condition assessments identified through the AMP as necessary and would help the City meet repair program requirements.
Water Asset Funding
Current funding sources for building, upgrading and renewing water assets include:
|Development Charges||In accordance with the Development Charges Act, these are charges collected by the City from developers, to help pay for growth-related infrastructure.|
|Front Ending Agreements / Development Contributions||These are agreements between developers and the City that allow a developer to “up front” the cost of building infrastructure.|
|Debt||Long-term borrowing to be paid for by future taxpayers and/or through the receipt of development charges (depending on type of debt).|
|Canada Community-Building Fund||Formerly the Federal Gas Tax Fund, the federal fund provides additional financial support to municipalities for eligible infrastructure projects.|
|Grants||Project specific grants and subsidies, other than the Canada Community-Building Fund.|
|Water Capital Reserve||Revenue collected from taxpayers through water utility bills.|