A few points of clarification to your story. Halifax Water has created and posted this user friendly map of hydrant and catchbasin locations, not HRM. You incorrectly state in paragraph one that HRM has provided this online map.
HRM is responsible to keep catchbasins clear, not Halifax Water. Halifax Water is responsible to keep hydrants accessible, not HRM. HRM's snow clearing budget is completely separate from any Halifax Water budgeting.
If you find debris over a catchbasin, please clear it safely or report it to HRM by calling 311. If you see a catchbasin that appears to be damaged or tampered with (i.e. missing the grate), please report it to Halifax Water by calling 902-490-4820. If you see someone dumping material into the catchbasin, please email email@example.com. The public is encouraged to report unauthorized hydrant use as well as any hydrant that may be leaking, blocked or damaged by calling 902-490-4820.
Enjoy the new App. We're pleased to be getting great positive feedback from users.
I would like to correct a couple of errors in Mr.Bousquet’s July 31, 2013 article, “Bringing Timberlea sewage to downtown Halifax.
Regarding the proposed option of diverting wastewater from the Beechville/Lakeside/Timberlea sewershed via the Chain of Lakes trail to the Halifax sewershed, Halifax Water reviewed three options: routing the infrastructure through Fairview; an upgrade and expansion of the Beechville/Lakeside/Timberlea wastewater treatment facility; and the routing of wastewater via The Chain of Lakes Trail system. The Chain of Lakes Trail was deemed the best value for money both in terms of initial cost and over the long term, having the lowest lifecycle cost of the three options due to the gravity flow nature of this pipe; and the gravity system also reduces associated environmental risk from the potential malfunction of mechanical and electrical equipment.
Mr.Bousquet further states that the cost of the Chain of Lakes Trail pipe will be borne entirely by rate payers. This is incorrect. Ninety percent of the cost of the project is linked to regional growth related infrastructure and would be funded from regional development charges. Regional development charges are funds collected from all new construction at the Building Permit stage and are used to fund upgrades to wastewater treatment facilities and other regional-type infrastructure required to accommodate growth. The remaining ten per cent will be covered by ratepayers.
The article goes on to say, “it's absurd to send sewage from the far-flung suburbs of Timberlea to downtown Halifax”. As noted above, three options were extensively reviewed. The Chain of Lakes Trail option was found to be the most cost effective in the short and long term, with the added benefit of providing the lowest associated environmental risk from the potential malfunction of mechanical and electrical equipment.
In closing, Halifax Water is regulated by the NSUARB. As such the NSUARB will have the final say on this project.
Mr.Bousquet, Your history of Halifax Water is incorrect. Halifax Water was originally formed in 1945 when it assumed the neglected,ailing water assets of the then City of Halifax.
On April 1, 1996, as a result of metro amalgamation, the Dartmouth and Halifax County water utilities were merged with the Halifax Water Commission, bringing with it, new challenges and opportunities.
On August 1, 2007, the Commission expanded its mandate once again with the transfer of HRM's wastewater and stormwater assets to Halifax Water, becoming the first regulated water and wastewater/stormwater utility in Canada.
Also, construction of the Harbour Solutions Project began in 2003 under direction of the then Council of the day. Halifax Water's involvement of course only began following the Aug.1, 2007 transfer of HRM's wastewater, and stormwater.
All this information is readily available on our website at www.halifaxwater.ca.
Communications & Public Relations Coordinator-Halifax Water
We read with interest your article dated Sept.20, 2012, "Five candidates vie for District 15 council seat".
We believe it is important to clarify some apparent misconceptions about Halifax Water and its role in the provision of water, wastewater, and stormwater services to residents of HRM..
It is important to realize that stormwater management is multi-jurisdictional and Halifax Water, although having an important role, is one of three agencies with responsibility for stormwater. The other two agencies are HRM and the Province of Nova Scotia. Halifax Water's role, as defined by the Wastewater/Stormwater Transfer Agreement executed in 2007 with the approval of Regional Council, is the management of municipal stormwater infrastructure in the Street Right of Way or within easements or land deeded to the Utility. HRM still has a prominent role in stormwater management with administration of land use policies and by-laws. The Province has responsibility where stormwater is directed to water courses which are plentiful in HRM. In addition to these agencies, private residents also have a responsibility to mitigate runoff to streets and streams, as outlined in the Municipal Government Act, HRM Charter and Halifax Water rules and regulations.
Notwithstanding the aspect of multijurisdictional roles, Halifax Water has been pushing HRM for policy development with regard to the installation of deep storm sewers where none exist today. The Halifax Water Board which is comprised of HRM's Mayor, 3 members of Regional Council, HRM's CAO, and three private citizens, approved a staff recommendation in January, 2009 for a proposed cost sharing of deep storm sewers with HRM and local residents where a sanitary system exists but there is no deep storm sewer. This was forwarded to HRM in February, 2009 in an effort to formulate policy to deal with this deficit in stormwater infrastructure. In conjunction with this policy, Halifax Water staff have been attempting to fund capital projects to improve stormwater service to customers. As an example, Halifax Water completed a pre-design study last year and put funds in the 2012/13 capital budget for improvements in Eastern Passage. The Eastern Passage area has become a catalyst for policy development with HRM Council recently directing HRM staff to present recommendations to Council with input from Halifax Water. This in itself is a recognition that stormwater management is a shared responsibility. A successful project and partnership to solve the stormwater challenges in Eastern Passage will serve as a model to address concerns in other areas such as Sackville.
We are pleased to report that HRM and Halifax Water staff are actively engaged in a review of stormwater management activities to formulate policy and report back to Council in the near future. In addition to funding specific projects in the near term, Halifax Water recently completed an Integrated Resource Plan [IRP] which is a 30 year plan for infrastructure investments and also recognizes the deficit in stormwater infrastructure. This deficit was not created by Halifax Water, but is a legacy issue from previous municipalities where Line Departments looked after the stormwater operations.
Notwithstanding the needed improvements to stormwater infrastructure, we should also point out that the wastewater system is also in poor shape. In fact, as Halifax Water has been publicly stating for the last number of years, the wastewater/stormwater system is in a very poor state of repair(with the exception of the Harbour Solutions Project) requiring an estimated investment of $2 billion dollars over the next 25-30 years. This too is a legacy issue inherited by Halifax Water from previous municipalities, but we are pleased that significant progress is being made to turn the situation around. In particular, Halifax Water has been successful in its recent rate application to introduce depreciation as an expense to provide funding for capital investment in wastewaster assets. Given time and the required investment through the NSUARB regulated environment, which is a transparent and open process, Halifax Water will have a world class service delivery for wastewater and stormwater on par with the service delivery for drinking water.
As mentioned above the current wastewater/stormwater infrastructure deficit was not created by Halifax Water, but inherited. The only way to turn this situation around, which will not happen overnight, is to invest in infrastructure improvements and upgrades now and over the long term.
Regarding recent rate increases approved by the NSUARB, the three big drivers for the rate increases are the inherited infrastructure deficit in wastewater/stormwater assets; new federal wastewater regulations entrenched in the Fisheries Act; and rising costs for such things as energy and treatment chemicals. Even with these rate increases, rates charged by Halifax Water are well below other cities in Canada who are also in the process of raising rates as they address infrastructure deficits.
We are fortunate to have some of the best and lowest cost drinking water in the country thanks to decades of investment and stewardship by Halifax Water which was originally established in 1945 to rectify deficiencies with the water system in the former City of Halifax. Since that time, Halifax Water has transformed all the water systems in HRM into a modern and efficient operation. As an example, our water loss control program is recognized throughout the world. Since 2000 we have recovered approximately 38 million litres/day previously lost through leakage in the distribution system. This equates to a savings of about $600,000/year.
It should also be noted that a water main at 40 years old is mid life as the design life for water mains range from 60 to 100 years. That being said, pipe age is only one factor we consider when planning our renewal program.
In closing, investing in the complete water, wastewater, and stormwater system now and into the future provides current and future generations with a positive environmental, economic, and social legacy. Can it be done overnight? No. But we are well on our way and ready for the challenge.
Yours in service,
Carl Yates M.A.Sc., P.Eng
General Manager-Halifax Water
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