Water shortage issues

Written by ECA Review

Tony and Lorraine Friemark attended Paintearth County regular meeting on Tues. March 28 to express their need for good water.
Previous attempts at damming up water for livestock failed and they are presently hauling their water for both the livestock and the house.
“The livestock he had were dying,” said Reeve George Glazier.
“It’s now affecting their livelihood,” stated Coun. Doreen Blumhagen adding they’ve always been willing to haul water to their residence.”
I just want to make them aware that I understand their situation,” said Jeff Cosens, Director of Environmental Services.  “It’s pretty desperate, and they’re not the only ones,” said Cosens.
“Our [County’s] focus is to get water to areas that didn’t have water and this is the worst area,” stated Cosens. “How do I tell them who gets priority?”
The problem is having so few on a line.
“Do we change our focus and do short lines,” asked Coun. Blumhagen.
We’d save probably $75,000 because prices are down right now, said Coun. Dalmer.
“Some municipalities make it [building water lines] mandatory under  Local Improvement taxes,”  said CAO Tarolyn Aaserud adding “If we’re going to do 10 miles, you have to join.  That’s the only way you are going to make it work,” concluded Aaserud.
The report by Cosens was on the eight  systems  currently in the County of Paintearth including  Halkirk and Crowfoot Reservoirs, Brownfield and rural tank loading systems for agriculture use.
A cost share agreement is in place for the expenses at Coronation Reservoir and the Village of Halkirk.
The County’s portion of the Halkirk’s expenses is 64 per cent and 40 per cent for Coronation.
The total expense of the potable water systems in 2016 was $287,000 with 35 per cent being manpower and 23 per cent in water use. The revenue received was $89,500.
Expense by system is as follows:
The current water rate from the Shirley McClellan Regional Water Services Commission (SMRWSC) is $2.50 per cubic metre (m3).
Currently the County charges $2.70 m3 to those residents on the rural water line for the actual water use and a capital reserve fee of $20 for future development.
Brownfield has no meters and are charged a flat fee.
The water used by County residents totalled about 16,000 m3.
The majority of the water used is on the rural waterline at 6,500 m3 followed by Crowfoot Industrial Park at 3,500, Brownfield at 2,500 m3, truck fills for agricultural use at 2,000 m3, and the bulk stations at the reservoirs at 1,700 m3.

Water recovery rates are high and known as the amount of users on the system is low.
Currently there is about 22 miles of rural water line north of Halkirk with 20 connections and 14 users.
The average cost of building the water line is $180,000 a mile. During the engineering phase of a project, residents who wish to have a connection are charged $7,500 to have a vault put in at the property line.
After the construction phase, if residents want a water connection the cost increases to $15,000.
With low use and the lines not running in a loop, the County is required to flush the lines on both Halkirk and Crowfoot systems.
The systems were built with the final end use of the majority of the County being supplied with potable water, but until such a time as more users are on the systems, flushing of water will be a standard practice.
“Flushing is just frustrating, ” said Cosens. “We’ve all been raised to not waste water.”
Making more efficient use of the water by collecting the flush water (likely a costly endeavour), such as in a rural truckfill was presented for discussion.
There is no inexpensive system to stop flushing of the lines.
There is approximately 400 m3 of water in the north line that continually needs to be moved to meet chlorine levels.
“2900 cu. metres (one cube is 220 gallons) going on the ground,” said Cosens,  “my best calculations that I can figure out . Nothing we can do about it, it’s how it is designed.”
Questions asked and considerations discussed included what is an acceptable recovery cost currently and the timeframe to reduce the gap.
How to proceed with future expansion of the rural water lines, be it small projects or wait for grant funding for larger scale projects?
If small projects are to be considered then policies need to be in place to help guide in decisions being made.
“Every situation is unique,” stated Blumhagen when discussing putting together a policy for the water issue.
The need for more rural water lines in different parts of the County is known, said CAO Tarolyn Aaserud in an email, it’s just a matter of how to fund any project.
Currently there are no known sources of grant funding for water line projects.
Council will consider options to increase water revenue including water rate increases, user fees and capital charges.
The goal is to make the system more sustainable.
Council will  look after the water considerations when budgeting.

Public works  Bryce Cooke, public works reported to council that they have steamed open over 100 culverts as of the March 28 meeting.
No road bans were set, only on pavement, as Bryce Cooke explained there was no heavy traffic, only farmers.
Council approved the purchase of a Tandem Cross Gate trailer with a Tandem Axle Converter to be used on the summer gravel haul to replace the 2007 tridem pup from Hayworth Equipment, the lowest bidder,  for  $74,379.
Five other tenders ranged from $74,445 to $111,441.
The new trailer will be able to haul an extra eight tonne of gravel per trip.

Housing Authority
County council motioned to support dissolving the  Ministerial Acts governing the Coronation and Castor Housing Authorities with the purpose of  moving towards a new framework of one regional board under a new ministerial act.
Council felt they had already motioned for this at a previous meeting, but CAO Aaserud explained it was only direction to council representatives to go back to their Housing Authority Boards., it was not an actual motion to instruct the Boards to move forward in developing a new framework.
Council heard that 18 communities north of Edmonton including St. Albert were able to structure one board under one Ministerial Act.
The Ministerial Acts will not be dissolved until such time as a new framework is approved by all concerned and a new Ministerial Act is put in place.
According to discussions, the forming of regions for almost everything is driven by the provincial government where funding comes from.
The letter from the town of Coronation, who have motioned to dissolve their housing authority, stated that there was no reason to attend the meeting with government liaison, Loretta Bertol on April 4 until such time that all partners in the two Authority Boards made a resolution to proceed with a new structure.
“She’ll just tell us the same thing, to go back and get agreement from all municipal partners,” said Coun. Brian Bunbury.
It’s the understanding of those present that the Town of Castor and the Village of Halkirk have not yet done so.

Budget preliminary discussion
Council went in-camera (public not permitted) for a ‘committee of the whole’ meeting to discuss the preliminary budget.

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