LETTER: on money and sewage

Ken Holmes
By Ken Holmes
August 20th, 2016

                Regarding “Trail refuses to pay”, Council Matters, August 17thRossland Telegraph.

                A few years ago, Trail complained that their percentage of the cost of the sewage service was too high since their population had reduced considerably since the original agreement. Eventually after prolonged negotiations, Trail, Warfield and Rossland, as partners in the Regional sewage system, agreed that the fairest way of apportioning the cost of the service would be on the basis of measured flows. New flow meters were installed for Warfield and Rossland and the Trail flow is the difference between these flow meters and the measured flow arriving at the treatment plant.

                As it stands now, we have measured sewage flows, certified each month as being correct by professional engineers. However, it would appear from Trails letter to the Regional District, referred to in your “Council Matters” report, that they don’t accept the validity of the recorded flows.

                This is because the measured flows don’t support what Trail hoped would happen, i.e. a reduction in their percentage of the service costs. They hoped for 55 to 60%, but meter readings showed 69% of the sewage flow was from Trail. So, they want an external review of flow readings and infiltration into the Regional sewer and are refusing to pay the amount owed to Rossland. ($152,000) This seems like a case of ‘sour grapes’!

                Regarding Trail’s opinion that the meters don’t necessarily work properly, they should either accept the meter readings certified by professional engineers or take action to have the flows checked by independent engineers using different measurement techniques. There are established methods for doing this. Complaining about it without taking positive steps to resolve it, one way or another, serves no useful purpose.  

                Regarding Trails second point that there is infiltration into the Regional line that Trail should not be directly accountable for. Whilst Trail is probably correct in this assertion, it would probably require extensive and costly engineering investigations and the installation of more flow meters at Trail’s multiple points of entry to the Regional system to prove the point and to quantify the flow.

                I would guess that Trail has about 75 km of municipal sewers plus about 7km of Regional sewer passing through its City limits. Unwanted inflow and infiltration can enter anywhere in this system. It appears to me that the only flow which can be disputed by Trail is the amount of inflow and infiltration into the 7km or so of Regional sewer passing through the City which is jointly “owned” by the three participating municipalities.

                Would it be worth the expense of trying to measure this to an accuracy level suitable for billing just so they can pass on to Warfield and Rossland about a third of the cost of treating that inflow and infiltration? In my judgement … probably not!

                Sewage flows from the City of Rossland are lower than anticipated primarily as a result of mandatory water meters, which have reduced domestic water flows by about 20% with per capita flows now over 40% lower than the City of Trail.

                Numbers from the Liquid Waste Management Plan Stage 2 report show that in 2015, the per capita water consumption from October to May (i.e. non-irrigation months) was 829 Litres/day for Trail compared with 460 Litres/day for Rossland. This is indicative of the domestic flows to the sewers exclusive of unwanted inflow and infiltration. Rossland’s lower percentage of flow to the sewage treatment plant is a direct benefit from the mandatory installation of water meters in almost every home and building. Perhaps Trail should do the same if it wants to see its sewage treatment costs lowered!

                My advice to Trail’s Mayor Martin, Councillor Cacchioni and Administrator Perehudoff is to “suck it up” and write the cheque.

Ken Holmes;      18th August 2016  

Categories: LettersPolitics

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