By David F. Rooney
Discussions between the City and the 65-year-old independent Big Eddy Waterworks (BEW) could eventually result in its merger with the municipal water utility, says Mike Thomas, director of Engineering and Development Services.
These early discussions have come about because of concerns about the impact low water pressure and water quality are having on at least one commercial development in the Big Eddy, which has an its own volunteer-run water system. Those concerns could well affect future developments in the area. Please click here is you would like to read a history of the Big Eddy Waterworks.
At the last regular meeting of City Council on Tuesday, August 26, Thomas reported to Council that “recent fire flow tests in the Big Eddy show 66 liters/second at full flow which is adequate for low density residential but not for commercial and the design should be reviewed against the Underwriters Survey guidelines.” Please click here to read his initial report to Council.
He also noted that Interior Health has concerns that are limiting development in the Big Eddy. Those concerns are, he said:
- No long-term sustainability plan for Big Eddy Waterworks to ensure safe, clean reliable tap water;
- Big Eddy Waterworks appears to be in a poor financial position to fund upgrades, replacements or to respond to emergency breakdowns; and
- The source well for the utility may be at risk with the aquifer directly influenced by surface water. If this is the case the system will need to provide additional primary treatment to meet provincial treatment objectives.
These increased pressures are forcing the BEW, described by Mayor David Raven as “fiercely independent,” to reconsider its policy of complete self-reliance.
“The Board of the Big Eddy Waterworks would like to express our interest in discussing options for potentially transferring ownership and responsibility for operating out water system to the City of Revelstoke,” Don Hall, the BEW’s managing trustee, said in an August 18 letter to Thomas that was not received at City Hall until August 27.
“Following out recent meeting on July 29… we understand that there may be grant funding available to cover some or all of the costs for completing an engineering assessment of our water system and development of a Water Master Plan. It is also our understanding that only municipalities or local governments are eligible for these grants, and we would like to formally request the City fo Revelstoke’s assistance in applying for these monies.” Please click here to read the complete letter.
The BEW has already commissioned water source protection plan and a water quality assessment study to alleviate Interior Health’s concerns. However, the kind of master plan the Big Eddy needs is beyond the BEW, hence their willingness to join the City’s water system.
One day before Thomas received that letter from the BEW City Council decided last week to:
- Approach Big Eddy Waterworks District to enter into discussions to address long-term water supply and quality concerns as they constrain development; and
- Ask staff pursue funding opportunities for an independent review of the Big Eddy Waterworks system as it applies to these constraints, to achieve water security for Big Eddy residents and businesses.
Regarding recent developments in the Big Eddy, there has been one subdivision application from the school district, which wants to sell the old Big Eddy School property, and one development permit for a 10,000 square foot commercial property storage complex.
In an interview on Wednesday, September 3, Thomas said that so far this year there have been 12 Building Permit applications since January 1, 2014, in the Big Eddy:
- 3 of these are Commercial, (2 restoration projects, the other being the new ~10,000 sqf commercial primary building);
- 1 Demolition Permit for a residence;
- 3 new Residential Accessory Buildings, (one of these required a permit for siting the garage);
- 1 Residential Addition; and
- 4 building permit renewals, (under free permit renewal program).
He said 11 permits have been granted or are being processed. The 10,000 sqf project is, for now, stalled, because of concerns about fire protection. Fire hydrants are a little scarce in the Big Eddy. The closest to this project are 150 and 250 metres away from the project site.
Thomas stressed that the BEW’s problems are not insoluble.
“I believe there is an engineering solution to this problem,” he said. “The real question is money.”
Thomas said there will be a new report to Council in the near future.