After years of discussion, there’s still no solid answer for what to do for Hope area residents whose properties are hooked up to the 753 water system, but the District is considering taking it over.
At the Monday, March 25 council meeting, Dave Underwood, from TRUE Consulting, presented the District of Hope’s Water Master Plan, which provides “guidance and direction regarding future capital expenditures, long-term financial planning, and (helps identify) system constraints and challenges associated with population growth and development.”
As part of the Master Plan, a 2017 feasibility study of the 753 water network was evaluated and included. In 2015, the system was added to Hope’s water supply when its well failed, and in 2017, when the owner died, the province took over the company but doesn’t wish to continue operating the system.
“We added (the 753 water system in the plan) to understand any impacts it may have on the District’s infrastructure,” Underwood explained.
But as it stands, the 753 water system “is not compatible with its current use, and it’s in poor condition,” Underwood said.
Built in 1982, the 753 water system currently supplies about 137 homes with water, however, the system has never been properly maintained, and with every passing year, the cost of updating and incorporating it into Hope’s main system continues to rise.
In a May 2017 presentation to council by Clive Leung of Opus International Consultants, the cost of bringing the 753 water system to an “acceptable level” was said to be $866,000 spread over seven years.
Leung also highlighted a $5.48 million renewal cost for the 753 system, which he said is the amount the District should set aside for the replacement of all assets. And, at the time, the 753 reservoir itself, which only has a capacity of 522 m3, had about 15 years of useful life left, while the 150mm water mains had 40 years.
And the system will only continue to degrade if something’s not done.
“The costs (of upgrading this system) are significant,” said John Fortoloczky, the District’s chief administrative officer (CAO). “As we move forward, I will present you with options starting this year, (but) I may not finish this year.”
In a previous discussion about this in the Oct. 22, 2018 council meeting, Fortoloczky explained that taking over ownership of the 753 water system would “likely entail establishing a special service area and applying for grants to make it feasible.
“That doesn’t guarantee, for example, that there will be grants or any help from the province, in which case a real tough decision has to be taken by council in regards to how much of the cost will we, the existing taxpayers, take on to the system.”
As part of the Master Plan’s objectives, “the cost of upgrading infrastructure and services new development are (to be) borne by those who benefit,” which means the cost of updating and incorporating 753 may fall squarely on taxpayers.
“You’re looking at over $2 million dollars (to amalgamate the system) by the looks of it, so the costs are significant,” said Fortoloczky.
Yet as Wilfried Vicktor, Hope’s former mayor, explained when discussing this issue late last October, a one per cent tax increase only generates about $74,000 for the District.
Overall, Hope has about 80 kilometres of water pipe running beneath its ground, “but that’s what it takes for a community of this size,” explained Underwood. However, “some of the materials are of concern, (like the) two kilometres of galvanized iron pipe.”
That said, “(Hope has) a robust and resilient (water) system, but improvements can be made,” Underwood concluded.