An age old disagreement is rearing its ugly head again.
Trail recently received a $152,000 bill from the regional district on behalf of one of its sewer partners,the City of Rossland – but city council is saying, “Back up a minute.”
“We thought the saga with the sewer was over,” Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) David Perehudoff said to council members during the Monday governance meeting.
“In terms of what’s now a reapportionment of costs pertaining to the meter reading and the impacts that’s had on the City of Trail…we have to settle the account to the tune of $152,000,” he added.
“It remains the opinion of staff that the meters don’t necessarily work properly or there’s infiltration into the regional line that the City of Trail should not be directly responsible for – because we are at the end of the line and that’s where I-and-I (infiltration and inflow) most likely occurs – even from a seasonal perspective there isn’t any rhyme or reason to a lot of the readings and how they are coming across.”
The bottom line, 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, is that 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.
And that’s what led to the hefty 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).
Rossland paid 24.9 per cent into the East Regional Sewer Utility in 2014 and 2015 as per the agreed upon Minutes of Settement, 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.”
Perehudoff counters that the city remains of the position that there may be other issues that should be directly explored before a payment is made.
“The unfortunate part of that is that we only have 18 months of data so it makes it somewhat difficult,” he said. “I just think it’s a going concern for the city in terms of the service and what we anticipated, probably in the order of 55 to 60 per cent of the overall apportionment of flows, which is now creeping back up to where we were before at 69 per cent.”
Backing up a moment, 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.
“This matter really needs to be brought to a head, it’s been going on ever since the flow meters were installed and Robert (Coun. Robert Cacchioni, sewer committee member) and I look at these numbers every month,” said Trail Mayor Mike Martin. “They are making no sense at all, and there is really strong evidence we are getting some serious infiltration into the interceptor line. And if, in fact, that is the case – that should be the responsibility of the full service, not just the responsibility of Trail.”
Martin pointed to flow meter data from January to May as an example.
“January we had the lowest river level and in May the river levels were at a peak,” he explained. “Trail’s flow went up almost 16,000 cubic metres, Warfield and Rossland’s went down 3,500 – so this whole balance is not making any sense at all.”
John MacLean, CAO for the service provider, the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary confirmed to the Trail Times that the flow meter readings are reviewed monthly and certified by an engineer to +/- 5 per cent.
Following that, the data is given in a report to the sewer <s