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Holyrood councillors have water on their minds

By Craig Westcott

A motion to approve a change order related to Holyrood’s new water tank led to a general discussion last week on the need to get the town’s water system to higher capacity.

The Town is splitting the various components of the project into two separate contracts in the hope of saving money, one for civil engineering work, the other for the mechanical, or actual construction portion.

Infrastructure and public works committee chairman Steve Windsor said the most important item discussed at the group’s last meeting was the need for “forward looking plans for expanding our safe, reliable, water supply system.”

Windsor said the committee has also been looking at the proposed North Arm River supply. 

“The committee reviewed a lot of background information, study work that had been done previously over the years, and we had some information presented to us by a third-party expert to allow us to understand the work that has been done and potentially identify some areas of work for further study,” he said.

Windsor allowed it was a lot of information to digest, and the committee members will tackle it again at their next session before coming back to council with a recommendation on the North Arm supply.

“I just want to make sure that we are doing everything properly, correctly, and look before we leap – not to take away from all the great study work that’s been done – but let’s be very careful going forward,” said the councillor. “We’re talking about many millions of dollars, not just for the municipality, but for the contributing funding agencies as well.”

As for the change order, the civil engineering portion of the project will now see $3,170 earmarked for preliminary work, $3,240 for design, $1,126 to oversee the tendering, and $21,000 for inspections for a total of $32,816. The cost of the mechanical, or actual construction portion of the work, wasn’t mentioned. 

“This increase in cost will be added to the current prime consultant’s agreement for this project,” said Windsor. 

The motion passed unanimously.

Windsor then pointed out the importance of installing a new tank.

“As you know, we’re all on a well,” said the councillor, who also happens to be an engineer. “It’s a series of wells, six wells and simply put, in the nighttime we fill up the tanks, and at peak use during the day, we draw down the tanks. We were lucky last summer, but the last series of summers when it’s been a dry season we get into these situations where tank levels are very low and we are asking people to restrict their water use, which is very frustrating. They want to do their things, they water to water their gardens, they want to wash their cars. We tell them we can’t because that’s what we have to do. This will help that. If you’ve got a second tank you’ve got more water volume to draw down when you need it… So, this tank is a really good project for the town.”

Mayor Gary Goobie said it’s important to note the water kept in the tank will be chlorinated.

“It’s quite obvious that council has recognized that improvement to our water system is a priority right now,” added the mayor. “As our town continues to grow, we want to make sure that our water supply meets the demand, and that’s why we’re doing the water treatment plant going up to Island Pond, and eventually that will be a great water supply. But right now, as you say, the town is on wells. Eventually, when we get this water treatment plant and we can start closing wells down, in the long run the Town is going to be better off financially, (because) there will be les maintenance work involved, and of course with the second tank it gives you the availability of more water. So, it’s all an effort to improve our water supply.”

Windsor noted there has been quite an increase in building permit applications over the last few months.

“As we add more demand on the system, we need to add more supply and capacity to it,” Windsor said. “It’s a little bit frustrating sometimes that these projects take so long to get done, but the work needs to be done – the engineering, the design, the concept (planning) the funding applications, the approvals – everything has to be done properly and does take time unfortunately.”

Goobie agreed. “And these things cannot be rushed through,” he said. “There’s multiple players involved, engineers, and Municipal Affairs, and the list goes on. Sometimes there’s a back-and-forth process that can prolong things, but as long as the wheels keep turning the job will get done.”

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