City re­vis­it­ing ap­proach to sell­ing treated wa­ter

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - CITY+REGION - PHIL TANK ptank@post­media.com twit­ter.com/think­tankSK

The last time the City of Saska­toon up­dated the agree­ment to sell its wa­ter to nearby com­mu­ni­ties, Pierre Trudeau was prime min­is­ter and Ron­ald Rea­gan was U.S. pres­i­dent.

With two of the largest com­mu­ni­ties nearby, Martensville and War­man, now near 10,000 peo­ple or more, the 1983 ap­proach to re­gional wa­ter needs to be re­freshed, said the City of Saska­toon’s wa­ter and sewer en­gi­neer­ing manager, Galen Hein­richs.

“There just needs to be a big re­think be­cause these are large cities now,” Hein­richs said in an in­ter­view on Thurs­day.

Changes to the way Saska­toon sells wa­ter to re­gional com­mu­ni­ties are pro­posed in a new re­port that will be con­sid­ered by city coun­cil at Mon­day’s gov­er­nance and pri­or­i­ties com­mit­tee meet­ing.

The most note­wor­thy change en­tails a de­crease in the rate charged to re­gional en­ti­ties, the largest two be­ing Martensville and War­man.

The so-called re­seller rate would more ac­cu­rately re­flect the cost of sup­ply­ing wa­ter and set the ta­ble for fu­ture wa­ter and waste wa­ter part­ner­ships, Hein­richs said.

“It doesn’t take much imag­i­na­tion to see that those two com­mu­ni­ties will one day be ad­ja­cent (to Saska­toon).”

The re­duced wa­ter rate would mean about $2 mil­lion less a year for Saska­toon, but that would be off­set by money com­ing from Martensville to pay for a con­nec­tion to Saska­toon’s sewage sys­tem, the re­port says.

Saska­toon sells 11.6 per cent of its me­tered wa­ter to cities, towns, acreages and busi­nesses lo­cated out­side city lim­its. It sells the wa­ter through SaskWater, a pro­vin­cial Crown cor­po­ra­tion, un­der a deal that dates back to 1983.

The city ap­plies a 30 per cent sur­charge to wa­ter sold out­side its bor­ders. Hein­richs said the rates are too high since the City of Saska­toon does not have to pay for adding or main­tain­ing in­fra­struc­ture out­side city lim­its like it does inside the city.

About one-fifth of the wa­ter sold out­side Saska­toon goes to Martensville and one-fifth goes to War­man. The city sup­plies potable wa­ter to about 38,000 peo­ple out­side Saska­toon.

In 2014, Saska­toon city hall struck a deal with the City of Martensville to con­nect the lat­ter to the city’s wa­ter and waste wa­ter sys­tem. That pro­ject has been de­layed as the city’s rates with SaskWater are re­con­sid­ered.

Of­fi­cials at the City of Martensville could not be reached for com­ment.

Hein­richs ex­plained this con­nec­tion means build­ing pipes and, since Martensville is el­e­vated, that will make the pro­ject sim­pler, with grav­ity do­ing much of the work a pump sys­tem would oth­er­wise have to do.

Saska­toon’s waste wa­ter treat­ment plant in the Sil­ver­wood Heights neigh­bour­hood has the ca­pac­ity to han­dle sewage from War­man, he said.

Saska­toon has also part­nered with the cities of Martensville and War­man, the Town of Osler and the Ru­ral Mu­nic­i­pal­ity of Cor­man Park in the re­gional P4G group.

“You want to be able to get along well with the part­ners you have in the re­gion,” Hein­richs said.

New rev­enue from Martensville for con­nect­ing to Saska­toon’s sewage sys­tem is es­ti­mated at $900,000 to $1.5 mil­lion a year, the re­port says. In to­tal, the rev­enue from the Saska­toon wa­ter and waste wa­ter util­ity to­tals about $155 mil­lion a year. Any lost rev­enue would rep­re­sent less than one per cent of that to­tal.

Martensville uses a la­goon sys­tem for sewage now, but it has reached ca­pac­ity, the re­port says.

Martensville pumps its sewage into a se­ries of la­goons south of the city. The ma­te­rial set­tles on the bot­tom of the la­goon, but ef­flu­ent is dis­charged through a canal to the South Saskatchewan River.

That ef­flu­ent is not the same as raw sewage, Hein­richs said.

He called Saska­toon a “unique” com­mu­nity be­cause it built sep­a­rate pipe sys­tems for storm wa­ter and sewage.

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