Original Published on Aug 17, 2022 at 14:04

By Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Eganville – Despite some concerns over high water usage at the Splash Pad and the threat of shutting it down for a few hours a day, things have been continuing to operate well with some small modifications. 

“I have a great sense of relief about the Splash Pad,” Mayor Jennifer Murphy said during a committee meeting of council last Tuesday.

Recreation Manager Kevin McGrath said he reduced water consumption by adjusting the flow to the tree, seaweed and flower features and also turned three jet features off.

“Did you have complaints from people using it?” questioned Councilor Jack Roesner. 

He noted he had not. 

Mayor Murphy said with the extreme heat the area has been receiving there would likely have been complaints if the Splash Pad was closed for a few hours a day as had been proposed due to the high water consumption. 

The report from Water and Sewer Manager Daryl Verch showed he had also made modifications at the plant.

Council is also considering a recycling system for the water in 2023 following a report from CAO Annette Gilchrist and Mr. Verch showing the extremely high monthly usage attributed to the pad. The report noted the flow to the Splash Pad was reduced to maintain capacity and it has not been shut off for any period of time. 

“The public service messaging and reduction in flow has brought awareness to ensure everyone conserves water in the higher use and dryer weather months,” the report noted. 

However, May through August are always the highest water usage months and it is clear the trend is going upwards in terms of water usage since the construction of the Splash Pad. In July, the usage was 25,513 cubic metres. In 2018 in July, the usage was 17,247 cubic metres. 

According to the report, the estimated remaining capacity for the system is approximately 10 percent during high usage months. 

It is also clear the Splash Pad is using a lot of water, according to the report. While the average monthly usage for high usage months for residences is 20 m3, and for a restaurant is 175 m3, the Splash Pad uses 952 m3.

“Our current capacity could accommodate approximately 100 new homes, 14 new commercial restaurants or seven retirement homes,” the report stated. “If we install a water recycling system at the Splash Pad, this could increase our capacity to 3500 m3 which would increase the capacity we have by at least 40 percent in the high use months (140 homes, 20 restaurants or 10 retirement residences).”

There are currently just over 550 users on the system. 

Coun. Roesner mused they could add a lot to the system with the homes, restaurants and retirement homes.

“Where are we going to get seven retirement homes?” asked Mr. Verch. 

“So, we realistically could add 250 users to our system before we are stressed,” Coun. Roesner noted. 

Councillor Tim Schison questioned how the Splash Pad could have brought the potable water system to the point of crisis. 

“The Splash Pad is the equivalent of three retirement homes,” Mr. Verch said. 

However, he acknowledged the extremely high usage which resulted in the crisis he had previously reported was because of another issue he has not uncovered yet. 

“Something went on there for four days,” he noted. 

Expanding the water and sewer system is something this council and previous ones have stated they are keen on pursuing. Mayor Murphy said while the municipality is still in discussions about expanding the water system, if it went into another municipality (North Algona Wilberforce) then the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) shows they would be responsible for the cost of upgrades. 

“There will always be upgrades of some sort,” Mr. Verch said. “Upgrades to the plant will be 25 years down the road.”

“We do need more water and sewer users,” Councillor Brent Patrick said. “We have the capacity right now.”

“I’m all for extra development in Bonnechere Valley,” Coun. Schison said. 

Mr. Verch said he continues to investigate what caused the high-water usage around a few days. He said they looked around the village to see if it could have been another issue like a dead-end hydrant. However, they have not discovered another source so far. 

Testing Cost Added

Mr. Verch noted if council considers the recycling system it is not only the cost of the recycling but staff time to test the water. 

Coun. Schison said in other places there have been safety issues with recycling the water. 

“I would probably advise against recycling,” he said. 

“Let’s look at it as an alternative,” suggested Coun. Patrick. 

“At the end of the day, it has to be safe for the residents,” Coun. Schison noted. 

Staff will look at the cost of a recycling system for the Splash Pad and bring it back for deliberation during the 2023 budget session. 

This item reprinted with permission from The Leader, Eganville, Ontario