Original Published on Jul 21, 2022 at 13:00

By Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Stettler county council turned down a hamlet resident’s request for a cheaper water hook-up at their regular meeting July 13, noting as they did so other residents in the same community paid the full price.

County Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Yvette Cassidy presented a memo from staff member Michelle Hoover which described a request from an anonymous County of Stettler resident who’ve had a problem with their water well in the Hamlet of Erskine and wanted to be part of a lower cost water system hook-up program that expired about two years ago.

“I am writing to you to inquire about being hooked up to town water,” stated the anonymous letter. The writer’s name had been redacted from the agenda package.

“We moved to Erskine in July of 2020 and the house we moved into has its own well which is now starting to go bad. After having the water tested we have found it has many different minerals in it as well as arsenic, making the water not safe to drink.

“In light of these things we have decided it is necessary to get hooked up to town water. However, for a young couple with a newborn this is a big expense. 

There was a rebate being offered to anyone in town who wanted to hook-up to town water in the past.

“Because this offer ended before we moved to town we were wondering if it would be possible for us to receive the same rebate that was previously offered or if there are any other options that lower the price of water hook-up?

The hook-up fee for residential water service in Erskine is $5,000.

Coun. Justin Stevens asked what the estimated cost to the county taxpayers would be if the request was granted. 

Cassidy pointed out the water line stub is already at the property line and the resident is responsible for hook-up costs, while the staff memo stated the meter alone costs about $600.

Staff also noted several other Erskine residents have hooked-up to the hamlet water system since the rebate program ended and have paid the full $5,000.

Coun. James Nibourg stated he struggled with the request but noted the county water system likely adds value to their property and that maybe the owners should have had the water tested before they bought the property. 

He also estimated a new water well to cost from $15,000 to $18,000 compared to the $5,000 water hook-up cost.

Staff pointed out a new water well is not an option and that property owners also have to have Alberta Environment decommission the old well.

Coun. Stevens stated it was his understanding that Stettler County was able to offer the $350 incentive during construction as it was a cost effective option at the time, plus the project was supported by government grants; Stevens stated none of those factors are at play anymore. 

Cassidy pointed out the county allows Erskine residents to pay the $5,000 over five years, and they pay the same “very good” interest rate the municipality pays.

Councillors unanimously declined to grant the request.

This item reprinted with permission from East Central Alberta Review, Coronation, Alberta