Township pressing ahead with search for new Arthur drinking water source

Budget increase to allow more demanding testing approved by council

WELLINGTON NORTH – Preliminary testing of a potential new municipal well in Arthur has shown positive results and now the township wants to press ahead, but at greater financial cost.

The township drilled an exploratory well in Arthur, known as “TW1-21,” near the intersection of Wells Street and McCauley Road, and testing has shown the location as being potentially viable for a new drinking water source.

Staff called on council for an increased budget to pay for “more demanding testing” and “more detailed chemical analysis” at council’s Feb. 7 meeting.

In last year’s capital budget, $100,000 was allotted to find a new well location for the Arthur Water Supply project.

Around $70,000 has been spent so far.

More demanding testing and a detailed analysis involves a six-day pump test, lab analysis of water and a hydrogeological report, bringing estimated costs potentially closer to $175,000 – about $75,000 more than anticipated.

Staff requested council allow a budget increase for the project to fund the drilling work, with the additional $75,000 previously not factored in to be paid out of the Waterworks Reserve Fund.

The six-day pump test involves “pushing water hard and seeing if it impacts wells around there,” township operations director Matthew Aston explained, followed by lab assessment of the water being pulled from the ground.

“We like what we’ve seen; we’re hoping to continue to suss it out a bit better,” said Aston.

Councillor Steve McCabe questioned the requested $75,000 increase.

Staying within $160,000 to $165,000 would be within the budget overall, according to Aston, but a contingency was added based on pricing from R.J. Burnside and Associates Ltd., which the township wants to continue working with on the project.

Aston expects the actual exploration expense to come closer to $150,000.

Council granted the budget increase as requested.

Competitive process waived

Council also waived the township’s competitive process for purchasing and procurement and awarded the ongoing drilling work, with an upper limit of $50,000, to Well Initiatives Ltd.

Mayor Andy Lennox said waiving the competitive process makes him “uneasy,” but felt it “completely appropriate” in this case because the company previously carried out preliminary drilling work for the township.

Bringing in another contractor, unfamiliar with the ongoing work, would end up costing more, Lennox asserted.

Well Initiatives Ltd. was previously awarded the preliminary drilling work at a cost of around $65,000 following adherence to the competitive process last fall.

“If this goes well, the next stage would be an Environmental Class Assessment which is a process, too,” Aston said.

The construction of a new municipal well is expected to cost around $3.5 million.