Working towards contingency plans for Oliver's domestic water system

Addressing domestic water

The Town of Oliver may have to deal with contingency plans for the domestic water system sooner than was previously thought.

Town council engaged in a lengthy discussion at their Sept. 11 meeting around transferring funds to upgrade the Rockcliffe Domestic Pumphouse project.

Kelly Mercer, Director of Operations brought forth a report to council recommending that the town transfer available funds of approximately $417,000 from the Blacksage Electrical Upgrades project, which is in the growing community fund, to the Rockcliffe Pumphouse project.

Mercer explained that “there are only two pumphouses that supply domestic water in Oliver, the Tuc-el-Nuit Pumphouse and the Rockcliffe Pumphouse. The town used to have two backup wells, but both were decommissioned for domestic water use due to uranium”.

Currently if anything goes wrong with any of those pumphouses we go into direct water restrictions. Which happened a couple years ago, Mercer pointed out to council.

Mercer explained his reasoning for wanting to move these funds rather quickly to make one of the pump houses “bulletproof” and be stable for the next 20-30 years and explore options for a backup pump house.

Water Coun. Rick Machial expressed that he was not fully on board with transferring this amount of funds, saying “I just don't like the way this is being sprung on us,” further noting they might be missing the opportunity to receive grants.

Mercer responded explaining “I would feel a lot better knowing Rockcliffe is in a lot better shape, we have 3 domestic wells and that's what we need to run the dam without a backup. At this point it could be 2,3,4,5 years without a backup, I would love to know that our pump stations are in the best shape that they can be to be able to supply the water to rural and within town. And that is kind of where this is coming from.”

Coun. Petra Veintimilla, attending the council meeting remotely, explained that she was against spending this much from the growing community fund.

Coun. Aimee Grice interjected saying “I think that council needs a little bit of time to let this marinate, but I do feel the urgency from the director, I don't think we want to wait 6 months to the next budget cycle to look at this project, we need to maintain our capital assets, if things are potentially a bit precarious, i think it's important to shore up our water system”.

Grice then said the best course of action would be to look at this option again in one or two meeting cycles.

Another factor in this discussion was the town has found multiple unforeseen problems with the Blacksage pumphouse, which supplies mostly irrigation water.

The town is currently providing around 680,000 cubic meters of water per year to System 2. There is 30,000 cubic meters being used for 45 customers. The remaining 650,000 cubic meters of treated domestic water is being used for irrigation.

“What that breaks down to is 650,000 cubic meters is 171 million gallons, and 30,000 is 8.7 million gallons. So we supply 171 million gallons of treated water for irrigation from that pump house,” Mercer explained.

The motion to authorize $417,000 from the growing community funds was defeated.

As part of this discussion, council did decide to move funds in the amount of $63,000 from canal covering analysis to the canal improvements projects. The current state of the canal improvements is $33,000 over budget.

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