Council favours borrowing to upgrade water lines

as the mayor sees it with District of Barriere Mayor Bill Humphreys - Council favours borrowing

Water; it is essential for life, and becoming more precious each day. In order for a community to be sustainable its water supply must be of good quality, have sufficient quantity and be safely delivered to the residents of the community. ‘Safely delivered’ means that the pipes and other infrastructure that carry the water need to be kept in good repair and updated as needed.

Water systems use pipes made of various materials. Some of these materials have been found to have a long lifespan and can be kept in service for a number of decades. For other materials, the service life is questionable and they tend to fail without notice. The problem is that once a water system starts to degrade it becomes prone to not only leaks, but contamination from outside sources.

Here in Barriere there has been an ongoing program to detect leaks as well as to conserve the quantities of water used. The recently completed water meter program has already resulted in detecting leaks in the system. A good number of these were on private property and without the meters it would have been hard if not impossible to find them. One of the next steps is to start upgrading the portions of the water system that have been in service for periods that approach their useful lifespan. Projects such as this are always costly and need to be done in ways that will be the most efficient and cost effective.

Possibly, the greatest cost in upgrading water lines is the repair of the roadways that need to be excavated during the project.

During the engineering of the sewer project, the District engineer, Dave Underwood, recognized that considerable savings could be found if the waterline were to be replaced in concert with the placement of the sewer lines. The road would need removal only once, and could then be properly rebuilt from side to side. This would also allow for measures to be taken to eliminate the flooding currently found on some intersections. Also, a proper pedestrian pathway will be built at the same time resulting in an even greater saving overall.

The main waterline running down Barriere Town Road is cement asbestos pipe, and is very near to the end of its useful lifespan. As I have said, Barriere Town Road will be excavated during the placement of the sewer lines so it makes good sense to take the opportunity to replace the waterline and do other needed improvements as well.

The waterline upgrade is not included in the grant given to us for the sewer project. The funds will need to be borrowed. As it happens, the cost of borrowing is currently at close to an all time low. Most of us remember when borrowing costs were in the double digits. I would hate to not take advantage of the current economic conditions, and then be trapped into having to replace the waterline when it fails completely at a time when the cost of borrowing is much higher.

The District has made application to the Inspector of Municipalities, and has received permission to proceed with the borrowing subject to elector approval.

The choice to use the Alternative Approval process as opposed to a referendum was carefully considered by council. Referendums are a costly process and allow only two days to collect the electoral opinion (the advance poll and voting day), whereas the alternative process gives 30 days after the second advertisement for electors to respond. The District has placed the first of the two advertisements in this paper already, explaining the procedure for this type of approval.

The job posting and application for the student employment program have been posted on the District website and have been sent to Barriere Secondary School. In the application there are questions around having a driver’s license.

This does not mean students without a driver’s license should not apply. This type of information should be collected during the job interview, not on the application form. I apologize for any confusion around this. The program is intended to give work experience to students where they live. We have no intentions of excluding students because they do not drive.