Whiteway water project in doubt
Council, province attempt to cut costs of providing pure water system
Escalating costs of providing a new potable drinking water system in Whiteway are causing some delays in getting the system up and running and the taps flowing.
The new system, which will be housed inside a 200-square-foot building, is designed to purify drinking water.
When it is up and running, residents of the Trinity South town will be able to bring their containers to the site and fill them with purified drinking water.
The system was originally estimated to cost approximately $250,000, with the province is providing 90 per cent of the cost, and the town picked up the remainder.
At the original price, the town’s share would have amounted to approximately $25,000.
However, when the project was put out on public tenders, Mayor Craig Whelan told The Compass last week, “the bids came back at a lot more than government had expected. Now they are looking at between $350,000 and $400,000.”
When they had not heard anything back from government up to their last council meeting Feb. 21, Whelan said they contacted Municipal Affairs to find out where the project stood.
“Right now we’re waiting to hear back from government — they’re trying to get those costs down. We can’t blame them for that,” Mayor Whelan said, pointing out the town also stands to save on its share of the cost if the total can be reduced.
“ The less the tenders come back at, the better for the town,” Whelan said.
The mayor said the engineering firm (CBCL) and government are working together on ways to help reduce the overall price tag.
With about 25 of these systems to be installed around the province, he said there is even some talk of going with pre-fabricated structures which government could put out on tender for one manufacturer to supply all of them, if that would help cut costs.
The provincial government is carrying out pilot projects around the province using this technology, and Whelan told The Compass in an earlier interview his town hopes to be the first to make use of it.
Step 1 of the three-step project, site preparation, has already been carried out by Rowe’s Landscaping of Whiteway.
Whelan said he understands the actual system is already manufactured and assembled for delivery on two skids ready to be hooked up to the town’s water system.
The mayor said he understands the new system will have two separate taps, “one for washing out bottles and containers, and the other for filling them up.
“ To keep the system as hygienic as possible,” he noted, “it would not be open 24 hours a day, but operate during regular business hours between 8 or 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.
“ The main thing for us is to have a place where residents can get pure drinking water.” While the water will be free to all taxpayers of Whiteway, council has also discussed the possibility of making it available for sale to people from outside the community.
Pointing out once it has been installed, there is apparently not a whole lot of maintenance on this system, Whelan said the system could remain in place for as long as the town wanted to use it.
For now, he said, “ we don’t anticipate anything to be started on it until the weather breaks.”
Meanwhile, another waterrelated project for the Trinity South town over the longer term is a new water tower.
BAE-Newplan Engineering carried out a study on the town’s water supply, which found it could not flush its water lines properly due to a lack of pressure.
The engineers recommended council put in a water tower, which would be a hefty investment for the town.
Whelan said government had already approved $1.2 million for the water tower project, the town’s share of which would have been
$120,000. However, he said the price tag on that project has also escalated to $ 1.7 million, of which the town would be responsible for $ 170,000.
While it looks like the purification system will come on stream before the proposed water tower is in place, Whelan explained in fact the water tower project was proposed first.
When Trinity Bay-de-Verde MHA Charlene Johnson was serving as environment minister, she suggested Whiteway apply for one of the new water purification systems.
“So we were hot off the mark to apply for one,” Whelan said.
While the water is generally found to be good when it is tested, Whelan said, whenever they do have to shut down the water system and turn it back on, dirt has been found in residents’ sinks due to a lack of pressure for flushing lines. At least one boil order had to be issued last year.
Whiteway gets its water from Long Pond. Water is pumped through about five kilometres of water lines throughout the town from a pump house near the water supply.
Whelan said when the town’s water system was installed 25 or 30 years ago, six-inch lines, the standard minimum at the time, were used. When a new water tower is installed, some of those lines are going to have to be replaced with eight or 10-inch pipes, especially near the tower. That will also add to the overall cost of the project.
Aside from increasing the town’s water pressure, and improving the overall quality of water, Whelan explained it would also help address an important safety issue.
Right now the volunteer fire department is unable to hook onto any of the town’s 25-30 fire hydrants because of a lack of pressure. Besides whatever they can carry in the fire truck the fire department has to use pumps to pump water from the nearest available water source.
Aside from chimney fires, Mayor Whelan concluded, “we’ve been very fortunate they’re have been no major fires in town.”