Town of Bur­geo aims to con­serve wa­ter to keep costs rea­son­able

But op­er­a­tional wa­ter plan un­pop­u­lar with some res­i­dents

The Gulf News (Port aux Basques) - - FRONT PAGE - BY ROSALYN ROY THE GULF NEWS

BUR­GEO – Wa­ter is­sues are noth­ing new for Bur­geo.

Un­til two years ago the town had been un­der a highly-pub­li­cized boil wa­ter or­der that lasted over a decade.

The town has clean, safe drink­ing wa­ter now, but that doesn’t mean ev­ery­thing is fine.

While the town does have lots of wa­ter, the cost of treat­ment is not cheap. The more they have to treat the wa­ter, the more it costs the town, which is wa­ter con­ser­va­tion is very im­por­tant to keep fees down for the 600 house­holds in the town..

“We’ve got two chal­lenges,” Mayor Bar­bara Barter told The Gulf News. “One is our ag­ing in­fra­struc­ture and the other is the res­i­dents’ in­abil­ity to con­serve.”

Barter says that as leaks are iden­ti­fied in the wa­ter sys­tem, they are dealt with as swiftly and as eco­nom­i­cally as pos­si­ble.

In some cases the wa­ter pipe is buried quite deep and re­quires con­sid­er­able time and ef­fort to ac­cess. The Mayor added the pipe, at 18 inches di­am­e­ter, is larger than it re­ally needs to be to serve the town.

Barter says when it comes to con­ser­va­tion, res­i­dents are mak­ing good ef­forts to save on wa­ter con­sump­tion.

“A lot of the towns­peo­ple . . . in the last few years have been work­ing to­wards do­ing bet­ter with wa­ter con­ser­va­tion them­selves.”

Some res­i­dents use heat trac­ers or slow flow valves, or up­graded in­su­la­tion in or­der to en­sure their pipes don’t freeze in the win­ter. Still, other keep their wa­ter run­ning to en­sure their pipes and sew­ers don’t freeze, a mea­sure Barter can un­der­stand.

“No one wants to go two or three months with­out their sewer sys­tem,” she said.

Barter says coun­cil is work­ing to en­sure res­i­dents take steps to use their wa­ter more con­ser­va­tively than they have in the past. To that end coun­cil adopted an eight-step Op­er­a­tional Wa­ter Plan at its May 17 meet­ing, a move that did not sit well with some res­i­dents.

Some res­i­dents formed a del­e­ga­tion that sent for­mer mayor Ge­orge Reid to voice their con­cerns at the June 21 meet­ing. He pro­posed al­ter­na­tives, such as by­pass­ing the wa­ter treat­ment plant for some of the year. The group he rep­re­sented also ob­ject to in­stal­la­tion of wa­ter me­ters.

The mayor says shut­ting down the treat­ment sys­tem would ne­ces­si­tate res­i­dents re­turn­ing to a boil or­der.

Barter also says it would make the town li­able and doesn’t think it’s fair to force res­i­dents to buy clean drink­ing wa­ter.

Wa­ter me­ters are part of the sev­enth step in the plan.

Un­der the Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties Act the town can in­stall them, but Barter con­sid­ers that a fi­nal con­tin­gency for deal­ing with un­co­op­er­a­tive res­i­dents af­ter all other op­tions have been com­pletely ex­hausted.

In­stead, she said, coun­cil is fo­cused more on ed­u­cat­ing res­i­dents about proper con­ser­va­tion by pro­vid­ing in­for­ma­tion through fly­ers, coun­cil re­ports and the Bur­geo Broad­cast­ing Sys­tem (BBS).

Coun­cil has also voted to hire a part­time mon­i­tor to work with res­i­dents by check­ing their wa­ter flow and help­ing them ad­just it to ac­cept­able lev­els.

“What hap­pens when you’re run­ning it by leav­ing the ball out of your toi­let or leav­ing your tap open com­pletely?” asked Barter, cit­ing a huge dif­fer­ence in the wastage from a quar­ter inch to a half- inch flow. “If we did have res­i­dents who wouldn’t co­op­er­ate or didn’t want a per­son con­tact­ing them, then we would in­stall a me­ter, es­pe­cially for those who would refuse to co­op­er­ate. And that was the last re­sort.”

Barter says she has ap­peared on BBS to ad­dress some of th­ese con­cerns and to try to help clar­ify the wa­ter plan, but she’s still get­ting a lot of phone calls from res­i­dents wor­ried they’ll have a wa­ter me­ter at­tached to their house to the tune, at a cost if ap­prox­i­mately $500.

Barter says the eas­i­est way for house­hold­ers to avoid that step, is to co­op­er­ate with the town’s in­for­ma­tion re­quests about wa­ter us­age and ad­here to the ap­proved con­ser­va­tion rules; in­clud­ing not pan­ick­ing and fill­ing the bath­tub ev­ery time the power goes out.

If res­i­dents take the proper steps to con­serve wa­ter, she said, then the town will have less rea­son to im­ple­ment step seven: wa­ter me­ters.

“If you can’t work with us and give us your read­ings then we’re go­ing to need some other way to do that,” said Barter, who also doesn’t care to see any me­ters in­stalled.

None­the­less, she said coun­cil must con­tinue to keep the town’s op­tions open in or­der to pro­tect the wa­ter sup­ply.

“We have a right to man­age the sys­tem to pro­vide good ser­vice,” she said.

At­tempts to reach Ge­orge Reid for com­ment prior to print dead­line on July 27 were un­suc­cess­ful.

NORM STRICKLAND / SPECIAL TO THE GULF NEWS

Bur­geo wa­ter treat­ment plant.

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