By J.W. Schnarr
An engineer’s report on a Town of Taber proposal for a sewer tie-in for Johnson’s Addition residents may have left a bad taste in the mouth of M.D. council.
During their regular meeting on May 12, council heard from Tom Leavitt of MPE Engineering involving cost estimates and issues with a proposal by Taber council to tie Johnson’s Addition residents into the town system. The report highlighted issues with the plan, including costs and lack of growth potential.
The plan proposed by the town would involve a flow rate calculated on a population of 176 and a per capita flow of 400 litres per day, which would equate to 70.4 cubic metres per day, and without inflow of stormwater into the sanitary system. Infiltration rates would also be set at 70.4 cubic metres per day, for a combined flow of 140 cubic metres per day, representing the maximum allowable flow into the town’s system. Pumps would be set to only allow 1.6 litres per second.
Leavitt explained peak times generally occur around meal times.
“We all wake up around the same time, we get breakfast, we shower, so there’s a peak time between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m., there’s a little peak time at lunch, and another peak at supper time,” he said. He added peak flow times would force additional sewage to be stored, meaning the M.D. might have to construct a storage facility.
The report also stated all costs to connect to the town sanitary system would be assumed by the M.D., including a one-time connection fee of $114,952 to recover capacity costs for the town.
Once connected, utility rates for the town would be $.79 per cubic metre with a flat rate of $27.36 to cover costs. The town would bill the M.D. directly and the M.D. would then pass on that cost to residents of Johnson’s Addition.
Additionally, the M.D. would be asked to contribute to future expansion to plant upgrades and sanitary trunk based on flow rate percentages. An inter-municipal agreement would be needed in order to spell out the rights and obligations of both municipalities. The Town of Taber would also be required to develop a utility bylaw restricting any commercial or industrial connections, and to forbid the connection of weeping tile or stormwater into the system.
Leavitt said the rate restriction is based on the current population, meaning no additional residents could be added to the system.
“That’s really the trouble with the way they have it set up here,” he said. “That 1.6 litres per second is your max you could ever pump at. Really, there is no room for growth there, because they based that on a 24-hour period. You’re basically stuck. You can’t exceed that flow rate at certain times, so you can’t add more flow to it.”
He added the only way to facilitate growth on the system then would be to negotiate an exception to the maximum flow rate during the town’s off-peak time.
“Whether they would entertain something like that, I don’t know,” he said.
Division 4 Coun. Ben Elfring asked if it might be possible to use the storage tanks currently in use on individual properties to take care of storage concerns. Leavitt replied that might be an option, but that the firm had not looked at that possibility as part of their report.
“Some people might have storage, and some might not,” he said. “We’d have to do quite a bit of investigation to see what that number was.”
“So what your recommendation for this is that it is not a good option?” asked Reeve Brian Brewin.
“Given the risks and the restrictions, and the costs, it doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense right now,” Leavitt replied.
As of May, an estimate of the project placed it somewhere in the $4.4 million range, including lift station and force main, sewer work, and road work.
“Reality is we’re going to spend $4.4 million on a system we can’t expand on,” said Brewin.
“Possibly, yes,” said Jack Dunsmore, director of planning and infrastructure.
More information on the town option as well as other options were slated for further discussion at the M.D. open house on May 26.