Trail will pay big sewer bill next month

Flow meter readings appear to be accurate, and Trail will pay Rossland about $152,000 in reapportioned costs.

A key component of the Columbia River Skywalk continues to move forward as workers connect a piece of 16” pipe on Tuesday. The pipes will serve as the main lines for the water and sewer service

The sewer saga isn’t being put out to pasture just yet.

Flow meter readings appear to be accurate, and Trail will pay the City of Rossland about $152,000 in reapportioned costs, says Trail Coun. Robert Cacchioni.

But the investigation into where all the waste is coming from, that Trail pays for, continues to ebb and flow.

Since receiving the hefty bill from the regional district on behalf of Rossland in July, the city’s quest has amounted to thousands of dollars including the rental of a flow meter to capture sewer volumes from Teck Trail Operations.

“We turned to our team to find out where it (volume) was coming from,” explained Trail Coun. Robert Cacchioni. “They appeared to have found that the volume coming out of Teck is way more than we thought.”

That particular line starts in Rivervale and has a flow meter to track utility users in Area B. The pipe then continues through Teck and joins one of the city’s main interceptors located behind the Trail Memorial Centre.

“It’s a large pipe, about 12 inches, running three-quarters full, 24 hours a day,” Cacchioni said. “So we rented a portable meter, which cost about $3,000, and went in and took a bunch of readings on this line.

“And it is showing quite a volume coming down in fact, so much of that volume, that it actually appears to be the major reason we have such a high number at the treatment plant.”

There’s more data to be collected and reviewed, but Cacchioni says the runoff from Teck might account for fluctuations in the city’s monthly flow readings which were expected to be about 63 per cent of total volume.

Until now, Trail couldn’t account for the meter spiking, which is why council chose to delve into the matter before handing the money over to Rossland.

“We are the last on the line and we have to pay the percentage based on what comes out at the plant, it doesn’t matter whether we are treating water or sewer, we are paying on the flow,” said Cacchioni. “We don’t know exactly what (the percentage of flow from Teck) is, but we do know it’s substantial, so the number we are getting at the plant appears to be correct which means we don’t have high level infiltration, what we appear to have is a high runoff from Teck.”

While there’s two-plus years of readings from regional flow, there’s no historical data on the amount of liquid waste from Teck.

“Sometimes the flow (at treatment plant) would be as high as 76 per cent and as low as 58 per cent,” Cacchioni added. “But if you take that number we have from Teck, now, and subtract it from the number from the plant, we would just about be where we should be, which is 62 per cent or less the last step will hopefully be getting Teck’s meter on line so we can keep an eye on those flows.”

With local leaders away this week at the Union of BC Municipalities this week, Trail council will reconvene on Oct. 11 to discuss findings of the current review, Cacchioni says Rossland will be paid following that meeting.

According to data collected from the three flow meters, one above Warfield, one near the Gulch bocce pits and one at the Waneta treatment plant, for two years Trail underpaid its portion of the sewer service based on an arbitrated 63 per cent. The flow meter readings are showing the actual volume is much higher.

That’s what led to the $152,000 bill. The meters were installed to monitor actual liquid waste at those three points -until now, all three municipalities were paying their preliminary arbitrated share. (Trail 63 per cent, Rossland 25 per cent and Warfield about 12 per cent).

“That’s the problem, we had no idea what’s coming out of Teck, sometimes (flow meter reading) would be as high as 76 per cent and as low as 58 per cent,” he added. “From now on we’ll me monitoring the last step will hopefully be getting Teck’s meter on line so we can keep an eye on Teck flows.”

Rossland paid 24.9 per cent into the East Regional Sewer Utility in 2014 and 2015 as per the agreed upon Minutes of Settlement, clarified the city’s CAO Bryan Teasdale.

“When the flow monitoring stations were constructed in late 2014, new flow data was collected for 2015 and was used for cost apportionment for 2016 -also as per the Minutes of Settlement and the service’s new Service Establishment Bylaw,” he explained. “This data reduced Rossland’s contribution to 18.99 per cent.”

The Village of Warfield also owed Rossland reapportionment costs. Corporate Administrator Jackie Patridge confirmed the village would be paying almost $17,000 retroactive to 2014 and 2015.

In 2008, Trail launched a service review raising concerns with the method of cost apportionment. Basically, the city was questioning how much liquid waste could be attributed to Trail users because at the time, Trail was paying almost 69 per cent of the total cost of the service. Trail maintained this number was based on historical assumptions going back to 1969 when the service was started and when the city’s population was much higher.