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Sydenham Water Steering Committee Reconvenes by Wilma Kenny

On January 14, the South Frontenac Townships Sydenham Water System Committee met to plan their next steps, following the recent Federal/Provincial funding update.

Funding Announcement

As recently announced, the two upper tiers of government will cover two-thirds of the cost of a water treatment plant and distribution system for the Village of Sydenham, as defined in the Tottenham/Sims/Hubiki (TSH) study, and not to include any growth component, up to a maximum of $2,394,993 each. The remaining cost, presently assumed not to exceed $2,394,993, is to be covered by the village residents, businesses and schools. Costs of running the water lines into homes, and ongoing water distribution costs are not presently known, and will be the responsibility of the consumers.

Status of Sept 2003 Tenders

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Guy LaPorte of TSH reported that at least three of the four areas (water storage, treatment and distribution) would have to be re-tendered: only Kineticos bid for water intake may remain the same, due largely to the rise in the Canadian dollar. TSHs engineering prices have also risen.

Cost Saving Measures

LaPorte reported that his firm had identified a number of cost saving measures that, if built into the next tender call, might help offset increased costs in other areas. Some of the ones listed were: *Removing contingency costs from some of the individual areas (but holding a separate overall contingency fund to be used wherever needed in the project. He did not state the projected amount). * Deleting the truck loading station which would facilitate selling bulk water to water drawers ($6,000) * Deleting one of the two project signboards ($500), and the lettering on the water tank ($10,000). *Replacing the 10'x10' raw water well attached to the plant with a smaller precast chamber near the lake. *Replacing the $21,000 dehumidifier system with a $300 portable unit, which should work as effectively, for the summer period when it might be needed.. *Changing from shiny stainless steel to a dull finish (aesthetics). * Changing the flooring from ceramic tile to epoxy coating. *Eliminating a $36,000 waterproofing membrane in the reservoir, on the grounds that if the (concrete) tank cracked, the membrane would probably also crack, and because of water pressure in the tank, it would not be possible for unclean water to move into the tank if there were a crack. (No one asked why this membrane, or indeed some of the other items listed, had been designed into the system in the first place.) *Lowering the asphalt restoration costs by having all the village re-paving done at one time. * Replacing the five end-of-line hydrants with less expensive "blow-off" valves. (This would not compromise fire protection, as there would still be hydrants within 250' of every residence.)* Providing water meters directly, rather than through the tendered contracts.

Schedule

The project schedule proposes tendering going forward in February, contracts being awarded in March, and construction beginning in April. The system would be completed by April 06.

The engineers said this is a good time to go for tender bids, as contractors will want early projects, and summer is the best time for construction. The engineers defended the full year allowed for construction of the treatment plant, by stating they were allowing for 28 days concrete curing time at several stages, and anticipating slow delivery of equipment.

Outstanding Issues

Guy LaPorte listed a number of tasks for the water committee and council still to do: They include: Deal with residents exemption requests, tendering for system operator, so they would be on hand before start-up, and updating the water rate by-law to include the correct frontages of properties, as defined by the assessment office.

As well the township will be required to establish a by-law to regulate hook-ups: size of pipes, inspection schedule, and a by-law for monthly water billing. The township will also have to establish a well abandonment program. (The provincial subsidy for this has run out.) Finally, there should be a brochure drawn up with information for residents.

Concerns From the Floor

David Waugh asked whether residents would be given firm figures of the total project cost, including hook-ups and ongoing water rates. Committee member Forbes suggested there might be ways to get estimates of the hook-up costs, but other committee members were less certain this could be done.

In regard to concerns about hardship for individual property owners, Mayor Lake read a letter from Leona Dombrowskys office, describing an infrastructure financing loan of up to $2,000,000 available to the township under the acronym OSIFA, which could allow water start-up costs to be added to villagers tax bills over a number of years at a low (not specified) rate of interest. Details are not worked out, but the mayor stated that this sort of agreement would not entail placing liens against properties.

Waugh also reminded the committee that the previous council had said that the water project would be cancelled if the total cost were too high. "What is too expensive?" "Is there a cut-off point, and what is it?" he asked. The mayor replied that total costs would have to include hook-ups, which are separate from water plant construction costs.

Council Goes Forward

On January 18, Council passed the Water Committees recommendation that TSH be authorized to go to public tender for the various portions of the water project, amending the contract documents to incorporate the cost-saving design changes discussed at the Water Committee meeting.

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