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Village of Chester considering $48M water system

The Village of Chester has struggled with poor water quality and quantity for decades. (123RF)

Residents encouraged to attend public info session Jan. 15

Whether they’re frustrated by water quality and dry wells or don’t have any complaints about their home’s running water, residents of the Village of Chester are encouraged to flood into an upcoming public information session.

The Village of Chester has struggled with poor water quality and quantity for decades. Allen Webber, warden for the Municipality of the District of Chester, says the situation has needed to be addressed for a long time.

“We had a fairly significant drought a few years ago that impacted a lot of people, and that brought the issue to a head,” says Webber. “We determined we should at least look at what a new water system might cost and what the most appropriate method of delivery would be.”

In 2016, the Municipality of Chester hired engineering firm CBCL Ltd. to provide initial reports and analyses of water quality and quantity issues, as well as potential solutions. The two best options for the area were determined to be lake-fed or groundwater, but test wells and further engineering design will determine which option is better.

That’s where the public comes in. The Municipality of Chester will be holding a public information session on Jan. 15 regarding a proposed water system in the Village of Chester. It will include information on water system options and potential costs to property owners, as well as a Q&A with municipal staff.

“We’ve been sending out a lot of information, but there are some things that are so complicated they need to be explained face-to-face,” says Webber. “We encourage people to come out to the session and get informed.”

It’s estimated to be $48 million for a water system (including a treatment plant and water lines) and could take five years to complete.

Funding for up to 75 per cent of the project must come from the federal and provincial governments -- and without secured government funding, the water project cannot proceed.

The rest of the costs would be shared among property owners in the service area. Each property would pay approximately $850 annually for the first 10 years, and $670 annually for the next 15 years. These costs would be in addition to the individual property connection fees ($2,500) and consumption rates (average of $80 per year).

Everyone in the Village of Chester currently has own water supply. Webber says he hears from people constantly who are “very much in favour” of a water system, but there are also those who’ve gotten along for decades using what they have and don’t feel the need to make any changes.

“It’s very expensive and there would be significant disruption. We’d basically need to tear every street apart,” says Webber. “So we need to know if people want to proceed or not.”

Webber says the proposed project “touches the lives of everyone who lives and works in the Village of Chester,” and that access to clean, sustainable water has “health, environment and economic impacts now and well into our future.”

After the public information session on Jan. 15, there will be a poll on Jan. 26, 2019, to get an indication of how people want to proceed. (Advance polling, via internet or telephone, will take place Jan. 18-24, 2019.)

Webber says poll results will be announced at the Council meeting in February, and the Council for the Municipality will make the final decision based on secured funding, landowner support, and “a clear picture of the health, economic and environmental implications.”

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