RM of Alexander answers Great Falls water treatment questions

By Don Norman

Between 25 and 30 people came out to hear a RM of Alexander presentation on the Great Falls Water Treatment Plant that opened last summer.

The two-hour presentation covered topics ranging from how the project was funded to on-going operational issues and how they are being corrected.

They noted that the bulk fill station at the plant will require additional funding to complete. They expect this to cost between $20,000 and $50,000.
Overall, the plant is operating effectively by the RM’s full time utility operator with assistance from the Lead Hand and a local contract operator as weekend/holiday relief.

The water quality is excellent –testing is performed every two weeks at various sites in town per operating license requirements. The plant is making very high quality, safe and clean water as expected.

The plant is currently operating at approximately 8% of capacity.
Also discussed was the possible expansion of water distribution system. The RM continues to explore the possibility of expansion. Ultimately the decision will be made by those who would potentially be asked to pay for it. If the communities between Great Falls and Pine Falls (perhaps including Pine Falls) got behind the idea it would certainly help move the concept forward.

Interior of the Great Falls Water Treatment Plant.

To address the cost concerns of potential new customers, the RM has committed to contribute another $25,000 in 2020 to pay for one half of the cost of an updated engineering assessment from the Province for an expanded water distribution system ‘pre-design’ study to establish the current expected costs.

The community expressed concerns over the bulk water rate increase from $13.75 to $31.40 for 500 gallons or less. It may be possible to ask for several different tiers of pricing when a revised rate application is made but for the time being the minimum charge for bulk water will be $31.40 for any quantity from 1 to 500 gallons.

The RM is investigating the possibility of adding backup power since late summer 2019. At least three power failures on the three-phase power line in town are the cause of these interruptions. They discussed the cost implications of such upgrades. At a minimum it will cost between $240,000 and $310,000 to address the backup power issue and provide the necessary power for emergency operations center. MWSB is willing to fund up to one half of this cost.

No decisions were made at the meeting, but RM of Alexander CAO, Don Dowle viewed the information session as a success. “We had some really good interaction with residents,” said Dowle. “We were able to provide some information, answer questions and listen to their feedback.”

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