Some Drayton Valley residents may be able to get a break on their sewage fees during the evacuation.

Council has directed administration to consider giving a credit on the sewage costs for some residential bills over the duration of the Buck Creek Wildfire evacuation. However, only residents who had unintended overconsumption of water during that time are eligible, and only for up to 50 percent.

This was a result of a request that was made at the July 26 town council meeting.

One resident came forward to talk about his water and sewer bill. The cost of the bill was $1,266, as opposed to the typical $250.

He explained to council that on the night of the evacuation he forgot to check his outdoor spigots before they left. One was left on, but the hose nozzle was on it, and there was no water coming out at the time.

“If I had been at home, I would have caught it right away,” he said.

Once his family returned to Drayton, his wife found the hose in the backyard pouring out water. The heat from the fire had split the hose, allowing the water to continually flow during the two weeks of the evacuation.

Interim CAO Elvera Thomson told council that this was not the first request the Town had received requesting a break on an unusually high water bill. 

“All of the ones for the really large amounts of consumption was, in this case, the hose being left on and breaking, and the other ones were either people leaving their sprinklers on to keep their lawns green or an attempt to keep their lawns wet to help with fire efforts,” said Thomson.

Council had some reservations about giving out a credit because, typically, it is the homeowner’s responsibility to make sure the water isn’t left on. There was also concern about setting a precedent.

In the end, council voted to give the resident a credit for 50 percent of his sewage cost, which amounted to $334.

By Amanda Jeffery, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Aug 02, 2023

This item reprinted with permission from   Free Press   Drayton Valley, Alberta

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