Where should the money go?
By Laura Keil
During the summer of 2019, you may have noticed water tanker trucks parked behind the Valemount arena, filling up water from the fire hydrant. The Village of Valemount has long held a policy around selling municipal water to contractors, and it does so by the truckload (3500 gallons) for $100, says Village CAO Wayne Robinson. But last year was a banner year for sales. The Village collected $32,000 (up from $2,600 in 2018). According to their cost rubric, that amounts to 1.12M gallons of water sold to contractors in 2019.
Trans Mountain contractors helped explain the uptick in sales last year. Robinson could not comment on the final use of the water by the contractors, but it is believed that some of the water went to dust control in and around the pipeline storage yard at the industrial park south of Valemount.
Robinson says the Village is in discussions with Trans Mountain about purchasing potable water for their local operations over the span of the pipeline expansion (Valemount is home to a pipe yard, a proposed contractor yard, as well as a 600-900 person “man camp” just south of the community, yet to be built).
Robinson says the Village water system has capacity to spare when it comes to supplying industry.
“Currently, it is understood we have sufficient capacity to meet their needs and their needs are well within the permitted volume outlined in our water license,” Robinson told the Goat. “However, our priority is providing clean, safe drinking water to our Village ratepayers; this is always our top priority over any other potential external customers.”
Robinson says revenue above expenses previously went into the Village’s surplus fund, but with the “dramatic” increase in bulk sales in 2019, staff will be requesting that Council allocate that money to the water-specific reserve account as per the Reserve Bylaw adopted in 2019.
The reserve fund has been the topic of heated debate during the past few months, as Council voted to once again increase utility rates beyond the inflation rate to put away funds for future replacement of the system.