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Area D water system problems next on the agenda

Even a warm summer evening in the dog days of summer couldn’t keep people away from last week’s ADRRA (Area D Residents and Ratepayers Association) meeting.

About 50 ADRRA members filled the Oyster Bay Resort meeting hall to discuss a number of local issues including the state of the Area D water system which, according to a consultant’s report, suffers from a number of deficiencies.

Association President, Rod Nugent, presented the research he had undertaken on the water system which services 1,200 homes in northern Area D and is purchased from the city of Campbell River. Nugent’s presentation was drawn from information contained in a 2012 engineering study of the system by Koers and Associates Consulting Engineers that was prepared for the Strathcona Regional District.

Contained in the study were examples of numerous deficiencies related to both water pressure for routine domestic usage and significant water volume shortfalls which could severely impact fire fighting. While York and Finch Roads are most negatively affected by low water pressure, the water flow deficiency, measured in litres per second, at the Ocean Grove School was reported to be slightly over half of the water flow that was recommended for a school location. The study also revealed that over 70 per cent of the water pipes were made of asbestos concrete, a commonly used material 25 years ago but no longer recommended due to its brittle nature and susceptibility to corrosion. The study recommended a phased replacement of the pipe with a more durable material. All told, the necessary water system repairs were estimated to cost about $3 million.

“The demand for water always peaks in the summer. Let’s hope that our fire department isn’t left high and dry, literally,” Nugent said.

Nugent said he also found that since 2010 the Area D Water System has been following an unusual water billing practice of charging customers for their water not based on how much water they use but partly on the value of their property.

“This practice seems both fundamentally unfair and wasteful since the majority of homeowners have no financial incentive to conserve water and people with higher land values who pay the most have no control over the cost of their water,” Nugent said. “It’s like paying your hydro or cell phone bill based on the assessed value of your house rather than how much electricity you use or how many phone calls you make.”

Several people in attendance at the rater payers’ meeting suggested that water meters be installed so that everyone could pay their fair share based on how much water they actually use. A PDF copy of the Koers and Associates water study will be posted on the ADRRA website: www.ADRRAssoc.com

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