The M.D. of Lesser Slave River has new water rates, which one Canyon Creek man found out the hard way.

At the M.D. of Lesser Slave River council meeting, Herman Derksen spoke to council about his concerns regarding the new water rates. In 2011, the Canyon Creek wildfire burnt through Derksen’s yard. He has three acres of lawn. For the last 10 years, he’s had sprinklers going on his lawn 24/7 in May.

“I make the sucker green as fast as I can,” he says.

Derksen told council his May water bill has been in the $200 to $260 range. This year it was $5,700 for 400 cubic metres of water (around 8,800 gallons).

Part of this is the new rate increase per cubic metres after certain thresholds. Derksen was looking for a break.

“In fire season, there needs to be an allowance to protect our home,” he said.

Councillors were somewhat sympathetic, but made no promises.

“We all 100 per cent understand,” said Councillor Norm Seatter. In 2011, he was one of the firefighters that put up sprinklers on four homes in Canyon Creek with the fire visible.

“We saved those homes,” he added. “I understand being proactive.”

However, council maintained that potable water is for people to drink, not for that type of extensive watering.

Councillor Lana Spencer said that the council had spoken with the fire chief and they don’t want people using water in this way. It depletes reserves and could mean the fire department doesn’t have enough water to fight fires if they come.

“If everybody used that much, we’d have no potable water,” councillor Sandra Melzer.

The new rates are “to stop people from abusing the system,” said Seatter.

“We have to put our foot down,” said Councillor Brad Pearson. “We’re not even at recovery (cost-wise). The fly in the ointment for me is the communication bit.”

“I felt I had no warning,” said Derksen.

“You’re not the first one who’s come to us,” said councillor Melzer.

At least one of those people had used the water for cattle, which is another use it is not intended for.

Council plans to review the rates and fire suppression will be part of the discussion. Marten Beach and by the golf course there are non-potable water connections to be used for fighting fires.

Councillors decided to continue the discussion in closed session.

“We’ll get back to you,” councillor Melzer told Derksen.

Councillor Norm Seatter

by Pearl Lorentzen

This item copyrighted by / Lakeside Leaader   Slave Lake, Alberta

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