MAPLETON – A provincially-mandated report shows water from Mapleton’s systems in Drayton and Moorefield is safe to drink, but another report shows the systems require about $1.8 million worth of immediate maintenance and repair work.
Ryan Steckley, a senior project manager with engineering consultants Cima+, presented an inventory condition and capital assessment on the Drayton Water Treatment Plant and Moorefield Well Distribution System to Mapleton council on March 23.
The report found concerns ranging from corrosion on valves and phalanges, to chemical tanks that are not airtight and gauges and a pump that were not functioning.
At the Drayton facility, Steckley said paint failures, cracking on interior and exterior walls and “possible leaks in the chemical area” were found on examination of the building.
He said a generator at the facility was “in poor condition” and an electrical panel was “reaching the end of its useful life.”
In addition, Steckley said the generator’s fuel tank does not meet Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA) requirements and high lift pump number three “was not in operation.
“So we would be looking to replace that pump.”
Steckley also noted flows from pump five were not being metered.
“From what I understand that’s sort of the largest pump required for maintaining fire flows within the town,” Steckley explained.
“So it would be good to get a flow meter on there just to help out the ministry with their records with how much water is being produced at the facility.”
Steckley told council some of the chemical tanks at the facility are not airtight, which could cause health and safety issues and some of the pressure gauges were “not operational and looked to be an older vintage and so could be replaced.”
Landscaping issues were also noted at the Drayton plant, including some drains around the access hatch to the reservoir which were “closed by vegetation.”
Inspection of the Moorefield facility revealed a number of similar issues, as well as ventilation problems due to an undersized exhaust fan and leaks in an outdoor water storage tank.
The report estimates the cost of dealing with immediate concerns at approximately $1.8 million, with another $1 million needing to be spent over the next five years and a further $1.2 million in longer term (six to 10 years) requirements.
Noting the water plants are “obviously very critical infrastructure,” councillor Paul Douglas said, “It’s a bit concerning about the $1.8 million in immediate upgrades or repairs required.
“What’s the plan, to develop a plan to address these repairs?”
Douglas, who also wanted to know where funding would come from.
“I don’t believe we have that in our budget currently, so I’m just trying to figure out how we move forward with rectifying these issues,” he added.
Public works director Sam Mattina explained the cost would be borne by municipal water system users, not the general tax base.
“The plan would be now to try to schedule these repairs in over the number of years … and determine what the impacts will be to the water/wastewater rates, because it is a user-pay account,” Mattina stated.
“So we’d have to access the criticality and how quickly we want to perform these repairs over that specified period of time and determine the impact and go from there.”
Mayor Gregg Davidson said, “As you’ll recall, councillor Douglas, last year we raised our water and wastewater rates and this would be one of the reasons why we did that.
“Because there is certainly need for replacement or repairs and, as you can see here, it’s over $4 million.”
Finance director John Morrison agreed with Mattina’s assessment of the financial approach.
“We would have to review what projects are already in our capital projects and which ones are not,” Morrison stated.
“We’d have to assess the timing … some of these projects are not due for five years from now. So it will probably require us to look at the long-term impact on the user rates.”
Councillor Marlene Ottens asked if some of the concerns listed in the report, such as missing exit and emergency lighting or a generator not meeting TSSA requirements, could be attributed to changing regulations.
“Or are these things that have always been absent and should have been done years ago?” she asked.
Steckley replied, “With some of the TSSA requirements it is sort of a changing landscape there; that what was accepted in the past is no longer accepted there now, especially if you go to install new equipment.
“Some of the exit signs, potentially those should have been addressed at the time of the original construction.”
“At any rate, is our water safe to drink?” asked councillor Dennis Craven.
“I think that’s a little bit outside the scope of our condition assessment here, but yes,” Steckley replied.
He explained, “The basis for these water systems is that chlorine is added to the water in sufficient quantity. And so we didn’t notice any issues … with the chlorination systems.
“We believe those to be robust. And as issues arise those pieces of equipment can be easily replaced.”
However, he added, “On the supply perspective, there is a chance that if you do get a pump or valve failure there may be a case where you may not to be able to supply water to the town in all of those instances.”
Later in the meeting Mattina presented a systems report required under the provincial Safe Drinking Water Act and stated, “Yes, the water is 100 per cent safe to drink.”
Natalie Baker of the Ontario Clean Water Agency also told council inspection reports on both Drayton and Moorefield facilities came back at 100 per cent.
“There were no non compliances,” she pointed out.
Baker also noted the agency annually provides the township with a rolling six-year maintenance plan.
“And that is just recommendations to the municipality and it is up to the municipality whether to proceed with those recommendations or not,” she stated.
With construction of a water tower planned in Drayton, Douglas asked if there would be “less reliance on pumping,” meaning some pumps slated for repair or replacement would not be needed.
“That does take some of the pumping capacity requirements away from the Drayton pumping station,” Steckley agreed.
However, he noted that if the tower had to be taken offline for maintenance at some point, pumping capacity would be needed, either from existing pumps or a temporary unit.
“Keeping that in mind, doing an overall evaluation of the pumping system is probably a good idea,” Steckley added.
Councillor Michael Martin, who said he’s “not looking to point figures or anything,” asked Mattina if items “like vegetation growth around some of the hatches, the landscaping stuff … is this something your department would typically oversee or do you wait for OCWA to identify this type of thing?”
Mattina responded, “So without pointing any fingers to anyone, really these are incidental efficiencies that should really be identified on an ongoing basis by presence at the facility.
“So we have OCWA going there every day. We have one in-house operator … that person doesn’t get there every day …
“So I think it would be a team effort to identify any of these deficiencies as they’re observed and to note them and to share the information with us.”
Davidson, who operated an M&M Meat franchise from 2006 to 2018, said, “Being a layman looking at this and looking at my former business practices as business operator, it includes regular maintenance of equipment and to make sure it ran in good condition at all times and had some spare parts available …
“So keeping everything clean and tidy was very important for my business.”
The mayor continued, “This is Mapleton’s business, providing water, and we should be, through our staff as Mr. Mattina said, and through OCWA, maintaining our equipment at high proficiency.
“Why is it that there are pressure gauges that are broken, not replaced? We have corrosion that can be cleaned … proper ventilation in the areas where it comes to chemical storage is paramount, it’s a health and safety issue, or could be.
“A pump that’s not working? I don’t see how we have a pump that’s not working and it just sits not working, and we don’t look at fixing or replacing it.”
Steckley said he is not sure how long the pump in Drayton had been out of order, but he noted there were four other pumps functioning for the village.
“So you do have some backup covering the supply for pump number three at this time,” he stated.
Davidson stated, “The water system is important for our Moorefield and Drayton residents that are on the system, but it’s also important for council to make sure that we have a reliable system, that is providing clean water and reliable water, as we are responsible as council for that service.”
Council received the asset condition report on the water facilities, as well as the water quality report, as information.