Maple Ridge will study who uses two new roadside water stations in eastern Maple Ridge and why, and may use the data to slap a user fee on residents who do.
The district built a new water pumping station on Jackson Road and 106th Avenue last year and is planning another this year for Rothsay Street.
The new stations replace old stand pipes on 102nd Avenue, at 244th Street and another on 256th Street that Fraser Health wanted shut down for health and security reasons.
The new water station has card locks so that not just anyone can drop by and help themselves to the fresh water provided by Metro Vancouver’s system.
Bulk water carriers can access the old stand pipes, a staff report notes.
Once data is collected about how who’s using the water stations, from where and how much, staff will present options to council, which could include user fees.
But before any fee is put on water from the stations, Thornhill resident Betty von Hardenberg says there should be district-wide metering to curb waste by those who are in the position to do so by having access to piped water.
People in the Thornhill area only use the water station for emergencies, for a couple of the hotter months in the year, when their wells dry up, von Hardenberg said. She had to haul water for the first time last year, after living on Thornhill for 20 years, because she’d lent out part of her yard for a vegetable garden.
But most on wells in eastern Maple Ridge use the water stations only to haul water for drinking and bathing purposes. Neither does it make sense for people to drive here from out of the district, she said, just to fill up their containers with water.
“It’s not something they use and abuse.”
Meanwhile, there’s only a small percentage of Maple Ridge homes that have water meters, allowing people to waste water without penalty. “There’s nothing to stop someone from abusing that,” she added.
Langley township recently metered most of its residents before putting a fee on its water station.
Coun. Al Hogarth pointed out most residents on the Metro Vancouver system pay for their water (through the flat fee). “We have to realize, there is a cost to provide water.”
And others who pay that flat rate could ask to have their rates reduced if others are getting water for free, said Coun. Judy Dueck.
“I think it’s inevitable that there has to be some cost, there has to be some cost recovery.”
Coun. Mike Morden wanted to know if it was worth the more than $50,000 it cost to build the bulk water station.
But public works general manager Frank Quinn said the old standpipes raised several concerns with Fraser Health and had to be replaced. The old stand pipes had no backflow preventers to stop contaminants from flowing down the pipes and possibly contaminating the water supply, he said.
Von Hardenberg wanted to know why Fraser Health ordered the district to replace the standpipes now.
“It’s a real concern if there’s a health issue.”
An open house takes place in a few weeks to get public feedback.