Bashaw town council voiced its concern about water usage in the municipality after hearing a report that the amount of water “missing” has dropped recently.
The discussion was held at the regular meeting of council Feb. 9.
Town Chief Administrative officer (CAO) Theresa Fuller provided councillors with a report on staff efforts to reduce the amount of “missing” water the municipality has tracked; for years the town has noticed an imbalance between the amount of water being purchased from the Hwy. #12/21 Water Commission and the amount on hand.
The water commission charges a rate for every cubic metre of water purchased.
“Administration met with the Village of Alix to obtain information on their water reconciliation process,” stated Fuller in her brief to council. “The Village of Alix has been successful in reducing water losses and water consumption.”
Fuller stated Alix bills its water users monthly which allows a much quicker response to an unknown leak.
“Currently, the Town of Bashaw completes meter reads every two months,” stated Fuller.
She pointed out in her report the amount of water billed to the Town of Bashaw by the water commission, compared to the amount of water recorded in the reservoir, plus a third column of information showing the discrepancy.
Other data was also provided, including the daily average amount of water leaving Bashaw’s water treatment plant.
Fuller’s report listed a few possible culprits for the discrepancy, including old or malfunctioning water meters, undiscovered leaks and unmetered sites.
Fuller noted in a phone interview with the ECA Review newspaper Feb. 10 that another culprit could also play a role: the 12.3 km of main water lines within the Town of Bashaw.
She pointed out these lines must be fully pressured and filled with water, with all of the smaller service lines on top of that.
Fuller pointed out the town has two sani-dump stations that offer a cleaning hose which may play a role in the water discrepancy plus several public washrooms in town including the Heritage Park facilities which are not metered. The CAO noted a toilet could run at Heritage Park and not be noticed immediately.
Due to these factors and others the CAO noted it’s possible the leak problem is not as severe as once suspected.
She reported to councillors that town staff are planning physical inspections to ensure all commercial and industrial operations have functional water meters as the town has run across situations where businesses were using water but didn’t have a meter.
Councillors accepted the report as information.
Water bills increased
Councillors unanimously passed first reading of a bylaw that would increase the Town of Bashaw’s base water charge to $37.75 per month while keeping the consumption charge at the current $3.69 per cubic metre.
The CAO noted this increase would, on average, add up to about $93 a year for a resident.
The CAO noted the fee for service should pay for everything related to the service.
“It should fund itself,” said Fuller.
Fuller stated the bylaw will now be publicly advertised and returned for second and third readings at a future meeting.
Fuller reported that councillors passed all readings to bring into effect the revised master rates and schedules bylaw which included new penalties for industrial noise.
Fuller stated councillors spent months working on this revised bylaw in response to many public complaints last fall of intense industrial noise in Bashaw.
Fuller stated such complaints would still begin with a warning to the business, not immediate fines. However, if the noise persists a $2,000 fine could be issued followed by a $5,000 to $10,000 fine for further violations.
By Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Feb 16, 2023