Mission and Abbotsford will have to find a new source of water – eventually.
Both Mission Mayor Randy Hawes and Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun agree that, as both communities grow, a new source will be needed.
“We are looking for new sources because, frankly, there is a finite supply we can take from both Norrish Creek and Cannell Lake. So we have expedited the search for where we are going to get our additional supplies of water,” explained Hawes.
While the search is on, Braun said the need for water is still “down the road” as the current water system is in “good shape” today.
“We are looking at the future. Short-, medium- and long-term water supplies. It won’t be a $300 million project, I can assure you of that. I think for $40 (million) or $50 million we can probably look after the needs of both cities for the next 20 years,” said Braun.
In 2011, when Braun was running for council in Abbotsford, the city was considering building a new water system – estimated to cost $300 million. The project was to be funded as a private public partnership (P3) to create a Stave Lake treatment plant and water source. The P3 approach featured a possible federal funding grant worth close to $72 million (25 per cent of the cost) added to $110 million of privately financed money. Braun spoke out against the project and, eventually, voters rejected the idea.
On Tuesday, Braun said there is still another 10 years to go before there will be a need to augment the current system.
“It would look quite a bit different than what we saw in 2011.
Braun said in Abbotsford, residents are barely using more water than in 2002.
“Now water meters have had a huge impact on that.”
He said consumption has decreased, over the past 10 years, by 14 per cent, and that figure is “driven by people understanding the cost of their water.”
“If our friends on this side of the river, in Mission, put in water meters, the consumption in Mission would decrease,” Braun said, adding the current water system could then be adequate for more than 10 years.
He believes Mission residents use about 330 cubic metres per year compared to Abbotsford’s 200 cubic metres per year.
But Hawes said he does “not believe at all” in Braun’s claim that Mission residents use 50 per cent more water per capita than Abbotsford.
“We did do a test with 500 residences and right now they are estimating, based on that, that the consumption drop wouldn’t be as great as they thought it would be. It’s about nine per cent, which in itself is significant,” Hawes said.
The District of Mission has, however, made an application for a grant to purchase and install water meters.
The cost of such a project is estimated at $12 million and Hawes said it would have to be a substantial grant for it to move forward.