Talking about past work on cast iron water mains

Lisa Goudy
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Coun. Brian Swanson is pictured at the Feb. 24, 2014 council meeting at city hall.

City council will learn about the chronology of reports regarding cast iron water mains since 2000.

The majority of council voted in favour of Coun. Brian Swanson’s motion at Monday’s meeting.

“I think this could be very good information for us to have,” he said. “Although it’s stated as the city’s No. 2 priority right now, No. 1 being the east water feeder line … I would suggest it’s really important for council to get up to speed on this, what’s been transpiring, what reports have been provided so that people can understand exactly how it is.”

He said the city has 80,000 meters of cast iron water lines and 40,000 of those are past their life expectancy. The latest estimates are $1,000 per meter to replace the lines. In 2013, the city replaced 473 meters.

In the capital budget, there is $10 million budgeted over five years, but Swanson said the replacement will cost more than $40 million.

“It’s pretty hard for a 100-year-old situation to creep up on you,” said Swanson. “We need to know what has been done about this.”

But Coun. Heather Eby said she’d rather see work being done than spend time gathering information on past reports.

“Currently we have five enquiries with the engineering department that have been submitted since October asking for reports,” she said. “As far as what has happened with the cast iron water lines in the past 10 or 20 years, we know it’s not enough.”

Coun. Don Mitchell agreed with Eby. He asked city administration about how much information about the history of cast iron water mains will be part of developing the utilities master plan for infrastructure upgrades.

“(The firm hired to do the plan is) contracted to provide information on a prospective basis that will address the status of our complete system through a series of tests,” said Matt Noble, city manager. “Part of that will be gathering existing information that is available within our records, but it’s a significant amount of work. This whole process takes approximately seven months.

“Ultimately, we will have all of that and that’s part of the purpose of undertaking such a study.”

Swanson said the recent report on the Buffalo Pound Water Treatment Plant included reports dating back to the early 1950s. The reports on the Natatorium included previous studies as well.

“How can you be a responsible elected official and not vote in favour of this, wanting to know what is in the file on the most pressing priority facing us for which we’re funding at a quarter of what we need?” he said.

Coun. Candis Kirkpatrick said the information would be provided to council through a “different avenue.”

“It may take a little bit longer period of time, but I think to ask for it separately is perhaps not the best use of administration’s time,” she said. “I really take exception to the suggestion that I don’t place importance on this particular subject because I certainly do, along with the rest of the fellow councillors.”

Swanson’s motion was passed with Swanson, Mitchell, Coun. Dawn Luhning and Higgins in favour and Eby, Kirkpatrick and Coun. Patrick Boyle opposed.

Follow Lisa Goudy on Twitter @lisagoudy.


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