Revelstoke council agreed to move forward on a grant application to upgrade the Big Eddy Waterworks.
“The city only has one opportunity to put in an application in and we feel the Big Eddy water is extremely important and it has to be done properly,” said Mayor Mark McKee during Tuesday’s council meeting.
Council reviewed a report on the water system by the engineering firm MMM Group. The report recommends the city take control of the Big Eddy water system and sets out a 20-year, $5.7 million plan for upgrading the system.
Council supported a staff recommendation that would see the city take over ownership of the system, apply for grant funding to conduct the necessary upgrades, charge any outstanding costs to Big Eddy water users, and to meet and seek approval from residents for the project.
Big Eddy property owners would be charged an extra fee for any costs for upgrading the water system that aren’t covered by grant funding.
Mike Thomas, the city’s director of engineering, boiled down the recommendations to four categories:
1. Upgrading supply capacity and security by building a dedicated feed to the reservoir, construction a third well and upgrading existing wells and pumps.
2. Increasing storage capacity by constructing a second reservoir. This is the most costly item at $2 million
3. Upgrading the distribution system by replacing aging water mains over time, particularly to the industrial areas, where fire flow issues exist.
4. Improving monitoring and communication by installing a SCADA system that would work with the city’s system.
“On top of these major capital upgrades, we’ve also looked at asset management for the Big Eddy water utility as a whole,” Thomas told council.
The deadline to apply for the Small Communities Fund is February 18. Thomas said he expects it to take at least six months for senior levels of government to make decisions on which projects get funding. Once a funding decision is made, meetings will be held with Big Eddy residents.
“From our perspective, moving forward on this without knowing whether we’ve got the grant is the difference between a resident paying $927 in the first year or $309 in the first year,” he said. “We’d like to get some assurance whether we get that grant funding whether we ask the residents to approve the charge.”
He noted other funding sources could be sought over the lifespan of the project to help ease the burden on residents.
The staff recommendation received unanimous support. “I think by moving forward and getting this in by deadline we’re showing it’s a priority,” said councillor Aaron Orlando, who commended staff for its work.
McKee noted the public would have to be involved in the process. “With the tight times frames, we want to put the application in knowing that the rest of the process will fall into place and nothing happens until we feel we have elector approval,” he said.
Don Hall, the chair of the Big Eddy Waterworks, said he disagreed with some aspects of the report, but “as long as they can get their funding, I’ve got no problems with it.”
He said he felt a dedicated pipe from the wells to the reservoir should be a priority, not a second reservoir.
“My big concern is what are the residents paying for? Something that’s not required to the year 2035, or something that’s required over the next few years?”
Hall said the water board will meet with the city, then with residents. The board’s AGM is in April.
“I’m glad something is in the works. Even if it’s overkill, at least it’s being looked after,” he said. “It takes a big weight off my shoulder because I was wondering how I was going to accomplish all this.”
The MMM Group report can be read below.