Vil­lage of Ch­ester con­sid­er­ing $48M wa­ter sys­tem

South Shore Breaker - - Local - HEATHER LAURA CLARKE heather­lau­r­[email protected]

Whether they’re frus­trated by wa­ter qual­ity and dry wells or don’t have any com­plaints about their home’s run­ning wa­ter, res­i­dents of the Vil­lage of Ch­ester are en­cour­aged to flood into an up­com­ing pub­lic in­for­ma­tion ses­sion.

The Vil­lage of Ch­ester has strug­gled with poor wa­ter qual­ity and quan­tity for decades. Allen Web­ber, war­den for the Mu­nic­i­pal­ity of the Dis­trict of Ch­ester, says the sit­u­a­tion has needed to be ad­dressed for a long time.

“We had a fairly sig­nif­i­cant drought a few years ago that im­pacted a lot of peo­ple, and that brought the is­sue to a head,” says Web­ber. “We de­ter­mined we should at least look at what a new wa­ter sys­tem might cost and what the most ap­pro­pri­ate method of de­liv­ery would be.”

In 2016, the Mu­nic­i­pal­ity of Ch­ester hired en­gi­neer­ing firm CBCL Ltd. to pro­vide ini­tial re­ports and analy­ses of wa­ter qual­ity and quan­tity is­sues, as well as po­ten­tial so­lu­tions. The two best op­tions for the area were de­ter­mined to be lake-fed or ground­wa­ter, but test wells and fur­ther en­gi­neer­ing de­sign will de­ter­mine which op­tion is bet­ter.

That’s where the pub­lic comes in. The Mu­nic­i­pal­ity of Ch­ester will be hold­ing a pub­lic in­for­ma­tion ses­sion on Jan. 15 re­gard­ing a pro­posed wa­ter sys­tem in the Vil­lage of Ch­ester. It will in­clude in­for­ma­tion on wa­ter sys­tem op­tions and po­ten­tial costs to prop­erty own­ers, as well as a Q&A with mu­nic­i­pal staff.

“We’ve been send­ing out a lot of in­for­ma­tion, but there are some things that are so com­pli­cated they need to be ex­plained face-to-face,” says Web­ber. “We en­cour­age peo­ple to come out to the ses­sion and get in­formed.”

It’s es­ti­mated to be $48 mil­lion for a wa­ter sys­tem (in­clud- ing a treat­ment plant and wa­ter lines) and could take five years to com­plete.

Fund­ing for up to 75 per cent of the project must come from the fed­eral and provin­cial govern­ments -- and with­out se­cured govern­ment fund­ing, the wa­ter project can­not pro­ceed.

The rest of the costs would be shared among prop­erty own­ers in the ser­vice area. Each prop­erty would pay ap­prox­i­mately $850 an­nu­ally for the first 10 years, and $670 an­nu­ally for the next 15 years. These costs would be in ad­di­tion to the indi- vid­ual prop­erty con­nec­tion fees ($2,500) and con­sump­tion rates (av­er­age of $80 per year).

Ev­ery­one in the Vil­lage of Ch­ester cur­rently has own wa­ter sup­ply. Web­ber says he hears from peo­ple con­stantly who are “very much in favour” of a wa­ter sys­tem, but there are also those who’ve got­ten along for decades us­ing what they have and don’t feel the need to make any changes.

“It’s very ex­pen­sive and there would be sig­nif­i­cant dis­rup­tion. We’d ba­si­cally need to tear ev­ery street apart,” says Web­ber. “So

we need to know if peo­ple want to pro­ceed or not.”

Web­ber says the pro­posed project “touches the lives of ev­ery­one who lives and works in the Vil­lage of Ch­ester,” and that ac­cess to clean, sus­tain­able wa­ter has “health, en­vi­ron­ment and eco­nomic im­pacts now and well into our fu­ture.”

After the pub­lic in­for­ma­tion ses­sion on Jan. 15, there will be a poll on Jan. 26, 2019, to get an in­di­ca­tion of how peo­ple want to pro­ceed. (Ad­vance polling, via in­ter­net or tele­phone, will take place Jan. 18-24, 2019.)

Web­ber says poll re­sults will be an­nounced at the Coun­cil meet­ing in Fe­bru­ary, and the Coun­cil for the Mu­nic­i­pal­ity will make the fi­nal de­ci­sion based on se­cured fund­ing, landowner sup­port, and “a clear pic­ture of the health, eco­nomic and en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pli­ca­tions.”


The Vil­lage of Ch­ester has strug­gled with poor wa­ter qual­ity and quan­tity for decades.

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