In response to the Water Treatment Plant Referendum, which was mailed to Houston residents lately, I for one, as a retired District of Houston, Director of Public Works, Senior Staff employee, and long time resident of this community, have a few concerns with the process that is being brought forward to the taxpayers of Houston.
Yes, there is an aesthetic problem with our water, not a safe drinking, water problem, the Ministry of Health, through regular testing, monitors our water for parameters that would cause health concerns to the public, from drinking our Municipal water, and would have a water advisory order released as soon as a problem arises.
The treatment of Manganese in drinking water has been on going in communities for many years as it is a very costly process to address, especially for small communities, the Municipal Water Budget is funded by the users only, and costs are solely born by this fund, unless Federal and Provincial grant funding is available. In this situation, the District of Houston has researched possible grant funding to offset costs to residents, but without the backing from health agencies, ( because the water meets regulations, of the safe drinking water guidelines) it is unlikely to obtain Government funding, and taxpayers are likely to brunt the full costs of the project.
The notice received by each homeowner, affected by this 25 year payback, is possibly acceptable to some , or most, small property owners, but what about the property owner, Commercial, Institutional, or industrial business with a water frontage over 200 feet, their payback for 25 years would be in excess 300%, this is $1156.00 plus the applicable user fee of up to $760.00 annually. Is this acceptable in light of our declining population, business closures, and trying to attract new business to our community?
My main concern is, the taxpayer signing a cheque for a 4.2 million dollar project, without knowing what the real cost to us will be, History shows that unforeseen material costs and poor engineering practices inflate actual costs dramatically, and once a project has been started, has to continue regardless of costs. PEOPLE, we need to know what the Government will give us to offset these costs, if indeed anything, before we vote in favor of this referendum, then we decide the best route to go.
A few solutions that would help alleviate the problem with the water that should fully be explored, would certainly be,
a) Loop existing water mains where needed to complete flows, this would cut down the sediment in the water mains.
b) Install blow off valves in areas that have dead end water lines to insure proper flushing, this would remove a lot of the sediment from the water mains during the annual water flushing program
c) Use more aggressive maintenance methods, ie: water main pigging to scour sediment and mineral build up in the water mains, this process is very effective, and used extensively in communities with mineral deposit problems, however The District of Houston has not budgeted for this maintenance program on a required or regular basis.
This is just my opinion, and I would like to share it with all of you for consideration before we agree to a 25 year commitment.
Bob Weselowski, Houston BC