Steele Springs considers options

For the board of Spallumcheen’s Steele Springs Waterworks District, there is an urgency to get safe water to its residents

For the board of Spallumcheen’s Steele Springs Waterworks District, there is an urgency to get safe water to its residents.

An engineering study and an offer from a neighbouring water district may help.

Steele Springs’ board unanimously agreed to apply to join the township’s long-term water strategy, including the possibility of hooking up to the City of Armstrong’s water supply.

Its current potable water source is contaminated and laced with high levels of nitrates.

“The process of hooking up to Armstrong will take a long time, maybe years, and going to Armstrong’s supply would not give us safe water right away,” said Brian Upper, chairperson of the Steele Springs Waterworks District, to township council Monday.

Steele Springs is ranked in the fourth group on a priority list in a memorandum of understanding for long-term water supply between the township and city.

With a contaminated water source, the township thinks it’s premature for Steele Springs to enter into a water dissolution process.

Instead, staff recommended some options including the undertaking of an engineering assessment which could provide options for both water source and infrastructure.

The engineering assessment’s official price tag is undetermined, but staff recommended council approve, along with staff time, applying for a $10,000 provincial planning grant.

Council unanimously approved the recommendation with councillors Todd York and Ed Hanoski absent from the meeting, and Coun. Christine Lemaire excused herself from the discussions due to potential conflict of interest.

“If council is agreeable, we’ll inform the City of Armstrong where we’re at,” said township chief administrative officer Corey Paiement.

“If the preferred option of this assessment results in the city being the best choice (for water), then Steele Springs can make the choice to enter the water dissolution process. It can also approach Armstrong about being moved up the priority list.”

In attendance at Monday’s council meeting on an unrelated matter was Otter Lake Water District representative Terri Wong.

She asked Upper and fellow Steele Springs Board member Al Price why Steele Springs has not approached Otter Lake for assistance.

“Our pipes are spitting distance apart,” said Wong. “We have lots of water, and we ask every month why Steele Springs doesn’t come to us. We could put in a meter and sell you bulk water.”

Upper said such a move would be similar to joining the city, though “it has never really been offered, but we’d like to explore that.”

“It would be a helluva lot cheaper (than joining Armstrong) and happen a helluva lot sooner,” said Coun. Joe Van Tienhoven.

Said Price: “It would still involve us having to have a brand new pumphouse and we’d have to purchase a right-of-way wherever it’s located. It would be reasonably expensive but probably less than some of the other options.”

Upper said the engineer’s study could involve all of these options and could come up with other sources.