Prince Rupert, B.C. – Prince Rupert is edging closer to having the funds needed for an ambitious plan to replace the most critical 26 km of our water and sewer infrastructure. Now that the deadline has passed for the Alternative Approval Process with 47, and 48 respondents (respectively for the two bylaws) of the over 1000 required to register their opposition to borrowing, Council passed final readings of two borrowing bylaws last night. The Bylaws are required in order to allow for $45 Million in borrowing on the City side to match a potential $82 Million Federal contribution to water and sewer replacement. The City has already received a commitment of $65 Million from the Province for water system repairs.
At the same meeting, Council also received a report on the current status of water breaks in the community.
“This summer is panning out to be the worst on record, rivalling the level of breaks we had during our State of Local Emergency in December,” said Mayor Herb Pond. “Already this August, we’ve seen ten water main breaks and 21 water service leaks. For comparison, there are communities that see less than that in a year.”
It was also noted that this program must be completed before any progress on a water treatment plant can be made. Given the cost associated with treatment to operate and staff a full-scale treatment facility, treating water only to lose it through leaks and breaks would be prohibitively expensive. It is currently estimated that 40% of our water is drawn down from reservoirs through breaks and micro-cracks.
The escalation in water breaks the community is experiencing this summer is likely related to the rerouting of water while crews work on a critical supply main in the Crestview area. In addition to these repairs, there are several emergency repairs that have both City and external crews working on multiple sites throughout the community – including three breaks on 7th Ave East, 2 on Frederick, 2 on 11th, 1 at the end of Overlook Street, and 2 on lines on the mainland near our secondary watershed at Shawatlan Lake.
The instances of breaks on Frederick Street came alarmingly close to causing a complete disruption of water services for more than 1,000 homes on the east side of the community. Notably, a substantial portion of these breaks directly align with priority areas identified in our Infrastructure Replacement Strategy, as indicated on the accompanying map (full map included at end of appended Report).
The City’s main objective on the ground has been and continues to be to preserve water service and fire protection capabilities within neighbourhoods affected by the breaks. In the meantime, at the political level both staff and Council are directing all efforts to advocating for Federal monies necessary to replace our failing water mains.