UPDATED: $5.7 million price tag put on Big Eddy Waterworks upgrades

The cost for upgrading the Big Eddy Waterworks has come in at a cool $5.69 million, according to a new report.

A map of the Big Eddy Waterworks distribution system.

A map of the Big Eddy Waterworks distribution system.

The cost for upgrading the Big Eddy Waterworks has come in at a cool $5.69 million, according to a new report that will be discussed at next Tuesday’s council meeting.

The report by MMM Group, the engineering firm tasked with studying the waterworks, looks at the deficiencies in the current system and puts forward a 20-year capital plan for upgrades. It recommends the city take over the water system.

“It is expected that certain components of the system are ageing, undersized and/or lacking,” the report states. “As such, it is evident that the system is in need of upgrades to bring it up to current standards.”

The report contains two main parts — a study of the water system and a list of recommendations to bring it up to Interior Health standards.

The Big Eddy Waterworks was built in 1956, with substantial upgrades undertaken in 1980. It uses two wells and a reservoir to distribute water to 260 residential lots and 30 businesses in the Big Eddy. Water is pumped from the wells into the reservoir and then gravity-fed through the distribution system. Properties in the Tum Tum area, west of Highway 23, receive water directly from the wells, before it goes to the reservoir.

The report says the wells, pump houses and reservoir are in good condition, though the first two lack a backup power source.

The water is chlorinated at the wells and the report concludes, “the current treatment is sufficient and additional filtration and/or UV inactivation is likely not necessary.”

The watermains are aging, with some up to 60 years old. Thirty per cent of the mains are estimated to be 40–60 years old, five per cent from 30–40 years old, and 45 per cent are 15–30 years old. The rest were installed since 2000 or the age is unknown.

“A significant portion of the watermains are currently nearing their life expectancy and will likely reach the end of their lifespan within the next 20 years,” the report states.

The report also looks at the system’s capacity and flow. It says the existing reservoir doesn’t have the capacity for current or future water demands, particularly storage for fire flow for industrial and commercial use, but it is able to meet residential demand.

The report makes the following recommendations:

— An asset management system be put in place to ensure the system is sustainably operated;

— The city take over ownership of the water system;

— Problems with the system are identified and fixed;

— Water metering is considered, particularly for commercial and industrial users;

— The city monitor the system before any upgrades;

— The city undertake upgrades recommended by the report;

— Implement a revised rate structure to ensure Big Eddy residents are funding the system;

— That grants from senior levels of government be sought to cover the cost of upgrades.

The report by MMM Group sets out a 20-year plan for capital expenditures that includes $2 million for the construction of a second reservoir, $2.94 million to upgrade the water mains, and the rest for projects like implementing a monitoring system constructing a third well, upgrading existing wells and pumps, and establishing a dedicated feed to the existing reservoir.

The amounts are in today’s dollars. The total upgrade cost increases to more than $7 million if inflation is accounted for.

A staff report asks council to endorse an application for money from the Building Canada Fund that would cover up to two-thirds the costs of upgrades, while the rest would be paid for by users of the Big Eddy Waterworks.

The staff report recommends a public meeting with Big Eddy water users, and an alternate approval process, meaning 10 per cent of Big Eddy residents would have to contact the city opposing the plan for it to be defeated.

If it does go forward, Big Eddy water users would be hit with an extra parcel tax of $309 to $937 for residential properties, $464 to $1,406 for commercial properties and $1,547 to $4,687 for industrial properties. The cost would depend on how much funding is covered by other levels of government.

Check our website for council reaction and to read the full report.

Big Eddy Waterworks Report by AlexCooperRTR