After a slew of HRM residents were left on the hook for massive water hookup bills, the municipality and the province are moving to ensure it never happens again.

Developers have been building subdivisions at the city outskirts without doing studies on water availability. Once they’re built and the people are moved in, they’ve discovered their wells are running dry. Then they’re stuck with bills of up to $20,000 per lot to have city water piped in.

Developers will soon be required to complete hydro-geological studies before completing a subdivision. Future developments could be forcibly scaled back to match water availability.

HRM tried to make the change months ago but didn’t have the authority to act unilaterally.

Yesterday Service Nova Scotia Minister Ramona Jennex announced a change to the HRM charter that will allow the municipality to pass bylaws tackling the issue.

Liberal MLA Andrew Younger is a former HRM councillor who had this problem at the Spider Lake subdivision in his old riding. “In the end the province ended up putting in $200,000 to solve the water problem after the subdivision was built. It’s a real problem,” said Younger.

“We simply didn’t have the ability to ask for that study to be done ... and the result was the province, the municipality and the residents incurred a huge burden of cost.”

Amendments will also allow the municipality to pass new bylaws banning the chopping down of trees. HRM manager of planning services Austin French said currently developers can clear-cut an area even before their development is approved.

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