HALIFAX -- This isn't definite, but people in Halifax could be looking at a hefty hike in their water bills.

The water utility wants to raise rates by more than 11 per cent over the next 14 months, but first, the public will have its say before the regulator.

Deluxe Drycleaners and Laundry goes through a lot of water in a work day.

"It's a fairly big expense, you know, steam, of course, to do any pressing or finishing, we need water," said manager Kyle Jamieson. "We do a lot of wet cleaning now, wet cleaning is probably the most environmentally friendly way to clean clothing, and now there's an increase in that as well."

That increase in water cost could be more than 11 per cent, as detailed in an application that Halifax Water delivered to the Nova Scotia Utility Review Board on Thursday.

"Like any other business, Halifax Water has cost pressures and increases, our cost of wages, chemicals, fuels and every product we use goes up, and we pass those onto our customers," said Halifax Water spokespersonJames Campbell.

The increase would see rates increase by 5.8 per cent on Sept. 1, with another 5.8 per cent increase coming on April 1, 2021, for a total of an 11.6 per cent increase.

Halifax Water says the September increase would see the average monthly bill increase by $3.68 per month, and the April increase adding another $3.91 per month.

Even with the increase, Halifax Water says their rates would be among the lowest in the country.

"Right now the average across the country is about $982," Campbell said. "If our rate increase goes through it will be about $832, so still well below the average across the country."

But critics say increasing water rates will be yet another cost to already overburdened taxpayers.

"Even small, or seemingly small increases compound on top of other costs, and the costs of living in Halifax are already quite high," said Paige MacPherson of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. "We hear all the time from taxpayers that they are pinching pennies to try to get by."

Jamieson says a lot of the regulars at his laundromat are on lower incomes.

"They need to get their laundry done, and to take more money out of their pockets as a businessman certainly doesn't make me feel good," he said.

Concerned residents will have a chance to make their thoughts heard at a public hearing held by the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board on June 1.