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.”

Wa­ter tower

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.”

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