Town discusses water, sewer rates at open house

By Rob Vogt, Local Press Writer

The Town of Claresholm will be significantly increasing water and sewer rates over the next three years to begin to plan for the future.

About 20 people attended an open house hosted by the Town of Claresholm at the Bridges at Claresholm Golf Club on Feb. 28, where Blair Bullock, the town’s director of corporate services, was present to go over the proposed increases to water and sewer rates.

He began by going over the costs in 2018 for treating and providing water:

  • Water treatment plant is $520,000, including $100,000 for chemicals and $90,000 for utilities. Other costs include wages, maintenance, and water testing.
  • Transmission and distribution is $213,000 including repairing and servicing water lines, and utility and maintenance costs for pump stations and reservoirs.
  • Debt interest and principal payments related to past projects, such as the Pine Coulee raw water lie and water treatment plant upgrades is $289,000 per year.

This equates to a cost of $0.98 per cubic metre of treated water, which increases to $1.39 distributed to homes not including debt payment or capital investment. When that is included the cost increases to more than $2 per cubic metre.

In 2018, approximately $43,000 was generated in net income from the water utility to fund future maintenance and capital costs.

Bullock turned to the costs in 2018 for treating and conveyance of sanitary sewer:

  • Sewage lagoon cost is $25,000.
  • Conveyance costs are $84,000, including the cost of repairing and servicing sewer mains and utility costs for lift stations.
  • Debt interest and principal payments related to past projects, such as sewer main replacements and upgrades is $186,000 per year. In 2018, another $400,000 was borrowed for the sewer trunk/main from the airport to lagoons which adds another $47,000 of annual payments starting in 2019.

In 2018, there was approximately a $3,000 net loss from the sewer utility, which is the smallest loss in the last five years. The largest was $35,000 in 2016.

Consequently, there is no income to save for capital costs.

Bullock said the total original cost of all water infrastructure is $26.4 million, and the current estimated book value is $6.7 million, leaving an estimated net depreciation of $19.7 million. He said the town should be saving a minimum of this amount for future infrastructure replacement.

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