All smiling and under budget
After so many false starts that had led some to believe that drinking water would never flow in Ayer’s Cliff or Hatley’s Beacon’s Bay area, it has been officially safe to drink since Monday as the new water filtration plant, on Boynton Road in Stanstead East, was given the thumbs up by Quebec’s Environment department. The scheme came under budget by almost a million dollars, at $1,627,000. All in all, it will cost around one thousand dollars per capita and will represent an increase in taxes of less than one hundred dollars on a $200,000 property.
This project had been announced so many times that it had almost become a yearly topic for this newspaper. Back in the early 2000’s, new standards evolved from the Walkterton, Ontario, tragedy when seven people died and thousands of people became sick from bad drinking water. All Canadian provinces then started implementing stricter regulations
and Ayer’s Cliff’s water supply, taken form Lake Massawippi, was deemed undrinkable and, at one point, unsuitable for any uses. Since February 10th, 2004, the town was under a boiling notice.
One of the earliest challenges for newly elected M.N.A. Pierre Reid was to get the town a new source of water. In 2004, with fanfare, a solution was found, the same one as was inaugurated on Monday: Wells that already existed and had shown good potential at the same site. Then all hell broke loose. Not only were the wells in another municipality but they were in another MRC. So it was back to the drawing board,
all on the taxpayer’s dime, obviously. Both former
mayor Vincent Gérin and Mr. Reid were always at the threshold of announcing the start of the project, only to face another hurdle, nobody wanting to put the blame squarely on Stanstead East. Finally, last year, Quebec gave a grant of $1,320,000 covering half of the then projected total cost.
Present Mayor Alec van Zuiden could barely contain his joy when he announced that the project had come so much under budget.
The new treatment plant uses a new technology using what is essentially table salt, transformed on site into chlorine, that is metered into the drinking water coming from the well. Technical information and videos from National Geographic can be founded on the manufacturer’s site at miox.com.
While the technology is brand new here in Quebec, the work that had to be done by the engineering group, Poly-Tech, was also old-fashioned. The site is located in a flood plain, constrained by environmental issues, so the location had to be protected, first by stabilizing the Tomifobia riverbank, then by insuring that the well head would be above any flooding, obtaining approval at every step of the way. While the station and the 1.8 kilometres of conduit was ready by last fall, the flooding of Boynton road, last year, delayed the needed power line to the site. Finally, early this year, the water started flowing from the well into the municipal aqueduct and following the usual round of testing, of documentation that the town didn’t know was needed, as we reported a couple of weeks ago, the Environment department gave the go ahead for a May 16th end to the boiling ordinance.
For the residents this will mean the end of buying bottled water by the car load and local restaurants are clearly relieved as they told
All smiles as local politicians were able not only to announce that drinking tap water in Ayer’s Cliff and Beacon’s Bay is now safe, but that the project cost almost half what was projected. Orford M.N.A., Pierre Reid; Hatley’s mayor, Jacques de Léséleuc and Ayer’s Cliff mayor, Alec van Zuiden.
This is the well, photographed last summer, that will supply the new water. reporters early Monday morning.