water

Town lands $3.7 million in funding for water treatment plant upgrades

 

By Ron Giofu

The town of Amherstburg has received some good news as it relates to upgrades at the water treatment plant.

The town has received over $3.7 million for upgrades to the reservoir at the water treatment plant. The funding was received under the federal government’s Clean Water and Wastewater Fund (CWWF).

According to a report from director of corporate services/treasurer Justin Rousseau: “The Amherstburg Water Treatment Plant currently only has one water storage in-ground reservoir. Water storage reservoirs are required to ensure that adequate supply of water is maintained to meet peak water demands or emergencies such as fires, water main breaks, power outages and pump failures. The existing reservoir is old and showing extensive deterioration. In 2003 and 2010, the town performed emergency reservoir repairs due to excessive leaking of treated water from the reservoir. Further failures and repairs are anticipated as the structure ages.”

The Amherstburg Water Treatment Plant

The Amherstburg Water Treatment Plant

Rousseau noted the construction of reservoir would take place in two phases, with the first being the construction of a new 14,800 cubic meter reservoir and the second phase being two 7,400 cubic meter cells being built within the existing reservoir footprint. The cost of the second phase is not known at the present time, he added, with an assessment of infrastructure to be undertaken after the first phase.

While the grant is good news, there is still more money needed in the future.

“The town’s Long-Term Strategic Financial Plan and Water Model identify the need to invest over $30 million in water infrastructure in the next ten years,” stated Rousseau. “Furthermore, the town presently has little in reserves in the water division and has one of the higher rates in the region for water. This successful grant application will assist the town in securing future development and providing water at a reasonable rate thus assisting the town’s long term sustainability.”

CAO John Miceli pointed out that town council received a private and confidential memo about other projects needed at the Amherstburg Water Treatment Plant. He indicated administration is “examining all options for the delivery of clean water” in Amherstburg.

Miceli said a new plan might come before council on how to deliver clean water to the residents.

“I want to be very clear that we are looking at all options,” said Miceli.

Water and wastewater rates to rise slightly in Amherstburg

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Water and wastewater rates are on the rise two per cent and one per cent respectively in Amherstburg but the town is stating that sounds worse than what it is.

The water budget of nearly $9.4 million will be funded through $638,000 from working capital, a $3.7 million grant and $5 million in new debentures with the $1.369 million wastewater budget being funded through $542,000 in operating capital, $348,150 in grant funding and $479,350 from the wastewater capital reserve.

The water and wastewater rate increases will translate into the average user paying an extra $9 more this year, said director of corporate services/treasurer Justin Rousseau.

The Amherstburg Water Treatment Plant

The Amherstburg Water Treatment Plant

In his written report to council, Rousseau stated: “The projected two per cent increase in water would result in an average annual billing increase from $450 to $456. The projected one per cent increase in wastewater would result in an average annual billing increase from $772 to $775. The combined effect to the average consumer of both water and wastewater in the town will see an annual household effect of $9 a year, or two cents a day.”

Rousseau indicated the coming years will call for the replacement of the water treatment plan, a $30 million expenditure. The town has to take steps to bolster reserves to mitigate the impact of that expenditure, he stated.

Wastewater plantWEB

The reason for the proposed increases is to provide long term stability to building both water and wastewater capital programs as well as lifecycle replacement funding that will help ensure the replacement and expansion of both the water and wastewater systems. The increases agree to the long-term financial stability plan outlined in the Town’s draft asset management plan,” he added in his report to town council.

Councillor Leo Meloche questioned the timing of the budgets, noting that it is late June and that “it’s after the fact” for council to have more extensive dialogue on it.

“At this point, it’s difficult to have any input. We’ve already spent the money,” he said.

Rousseau called it “a fair observation” but said it was delayed due to the town’s desire to bring the budgets forward with the asset management plan. He said after the meeting the consultant the town is using on the plan is tied up with other municipalities so the plan was unable to be presented at the same time as the budgets.

Town, OCWA entering into new agreement for water and wastewater treatment systems

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Amherstburg will be sticking with the Ontario Clean Water Agency (OCWA) to manage its water and wastewater systems.

The town chose to keep OCWA and entered into a new agreement last Monday night when town council passed a bylaw authorizing such a move. Todd Hewitt, the town’s manager of engineering and operations, stated in a report to council that the previous agreement was to have expired Dec. 31 but a three-month extension brought the new expiration date to March 31.

Hewitt said an RFP for the services was put out to “ensure that the town was receiving the most competitive price possible.” Two proposals were received with OCWA being ranked first when the bids were judged by the evaluation committee. That committee consisted of public works senior staff including the director, the manager of engineering and the manager of environmental services with the corporate services director also being involved.

Wastewater plantWEB

The five-year contract has significant savings for the town, according to Hewitt’s report.

“When you compare the five year contract costs to the current cost projected over five years, the contract costs alone result in a savings of $1,186,132.43,” Hewitt said in his report.

Hewitt stated the town saves over $111,600 in the first year of the contract with annual savings in years two to five ranging from $248,000 to $289,000 as compared to current costs. Inspections and certifications are now included in OCWA’s base fee as opposed to the town paying for them directly at a yearly cost of $13,000, Hewitt said, with janitorial costs at the sewage plant also now included in the contract.

Outdoor summer maintenance is also included in the contract as opposed to the town paying for it, Hewitt reported, with snow and ice removal also now being OCWA’s responsibility.

“In the previous contract the town paid a 15 per cent service fee on any minor or major maintenance that was completed at the facilities. Administration was able to negotiate the elimination of the service fee on the first $300,000 of maintenance, resulting in an approximate $45,000 savings each year,” Hewitt stated in his report “Any work beyond this threshold will be subject to a 10 per cent service fee, which will result in a 5 per cent savings from the prior 15 per cent.”

Hewitt told council members that OCWA likes working in Amherstburg and he thanked them for their efforts in helping the town save money. Council members were similarly pleased with Councillor Diane Pouget commenting that the “savings are phenomenal” with Councillor Rick Fryer stating that “administration did a great job” in securing the new deal.

Local student organizing “Friends of Flint” bottled water drive

 

Sobey, Shoppers Drug Mart, Meloche’s No Frills and Canadian Tire are assisting with Carlee Stoyanovich’s “Friends of Flint” bottled water drive. From left: Rennie Rota (Sobeys), Mary Ann Wolff (Shoppers Drug Mart), Stoyanovich, Chris Meloche (No Frills). Canadian Tire’s Jeff Levy was unable to attend the photoshoot.

Sobey, Shoppers Drug Mart, Meloche’s No Frills and Canadian Tire are assisting with Carlee Stoyanovich’s “Friends of Flint” bottled water drive. From left: Rennie Rota (Sobeys), Mary Ann Wolff (Shoppers Drug Mart), Stoyanovich, Chris Meloche (No Frills). Canadian Tire’s Jeff Levy was unable to attend the photoshoot.

 

By Carlee Stoyanovich, “Friends of Flint” bottled water drive organizer

News reports remind us daily of the unbelievable circumstances and the tragic consequences that surround the Flint Water Crisis. It’s hard to believe that residents living just an hour and a half north-west of us here in Amherstburg are facing such a burden. The poor people of this city are living in a public state of emergency stemming from the contamination of their water source. Flint’s 102,000 residents have been exposed to lead and other contaminants in their water, which have resulted in sickness, brain damage and even death in 10 cases. This highly political situation is currently under investigation, and the residents are still confronted by a tainted water supply. Representatives of the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan, the agency tasked with the collection and distribution of bottle water to Flint, states that the problem will be around for many years to come and they will always be in significant need of bottled water.

 

To this end I have organized a water bottle drive and hope the kind and generous citizens of Amherstburg will rise to the occasion and lighten the burden of our neighbors by helping them in their time of need.

 

How it will work

For ten days commencing Friday, February 26, four of our local stores will allow residents to simply identify how many cases of water they would like to donate to Flint as they checkout from the store. There is no need to bring cases to the checkout counter or lug them to a storage facility – just pre-purchase them and we will do the rest! Each of the sponsoring stores, which includes Sobeys, No Frills, Shoppers Drug Mart, and Canadian Tire, have set up a special inventory code for a 24-bottle case of water.

At the conclusion of the 10-day event we will tabulate the total number of cases sold at all four store locations. Steve Ondejko, president of Onfreight Logistics, has generously agreed to send trucks to Amherstburg to pick up the water and deliver it to the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan, for distribution to the residents of Flint.

 

My goal

It is my hope that we can fill, as a minimum, two semi-trucks with pallets of cased water. This would provide about 100,000 bottles of water (4250 cases), basically one bottle per person living in Flint. Onfreight has agreed to bring over as many truckloads as we can collect so I hope to see a convoy heading for Flint!

 

How can you help?

I know many want to donate but don’t want to drive over to Flint. Here is your chance to have the drive done on your behalf! Visit our stores and order cases of water. Encourage your co-workers to do the same. See if your employer will match employee purchases. There is much that can be done to help. This is a one-time opportunity to make a difference in the lives of our neighbors in need. I hope Amherstburg, and the surrounding communities, will rise to this occasion!

If you are a business or community member interested in ordering pallets of water, you can contact Carlee at stoyanoc@uwindsor.ca to make arrangements. Our facebook event page “Friends of Flint Water Week” will proudly list our corporate donors, so please get on the list today!

 

Final thought

The impact you make today can have a powerful rippling effect on someone in Flint tomorrow, for no act of kindness is ever wasted. Be guided by the inspiring quote: “never underestimate the difference you can make in the lives of others. Step forward, reach out, and help”.   Amherstburg is known nation-wide as the safest community in Canada. Lets collectively get it on the map as the kindest as well!

 

Town council approves five per cent increases for both water and wastewater rates

 

The Amherstburg wastewater treatment plant.

The Amherstburg wastewater treatment plant.

By Ron Giofu

 

Town council has adopted five per cent increases for the water and wastewater rates for the coming year.

The rates were passed at a budget meeting held last Tuesday. Director of finance/treasurer Justin Rousseau said the passage of the two rates is consistent with the plan adopted by the previous council.

“The council is taking the stance of following the five-year plan of five per cent increases,” said Rousseau.

An average water bill in Amherstburg is roughly $420 annually, said Rousseau. With a five per cent increase, he said that would see the overall bill go up to approximately $429.

The average wastewater rate is currently $745 per year and the five per cent increase would see that go up to $753, he added.

“We’re not talking significant increases,” said Rousseau.

Water and wastewater rate increases often result in water conservation, he added.

There are roughly $30-32 million in capital projects proposed over the next decade, he noted.

While this year is the final year of the previous council’s five-year plan, Rousseau a noted strategic financial plan administration is proposing calls for possible increases in the 3.25 per cent range in future years. Savings could be possible, however, if the town elects to bring services they currently subcontract for in-house, Rousseau noted.

Town administration recommended the continuation of the 2011 plan as it “will address the short- term needs of the water and wastewater budgets of the town based on the assumptions used in 2011 to establish the plan.”

The administrative report added: “It is important to note that at the time the plan was developed, administration did not include a long-term strategy to establish a reserve for water and wastewater that would address future capital infrastructure challenges.”

The 2015 water operating budget that council approved consists of $4,480,000 in revenues and $4,186,974 in expenses with a capital budget of $595,000. Council also approved the 2015 wastewater operating budget of $6,097,695 in revenues and $5,901,094 in expenses with a wastewater capital budget of $3,768,000.