Emerald residents to get break on sewage fees
Municipality hopes to fast-track sewer project
By Andy Stonehouse
A new sewer system may be many years off, but a number of Emerald Estates residents have been granted a bit of financial relief as they continue to wait out the project and pay to empty their holding tanks.
Whistler council gave its initial support to a plan to reduce tipping fees incurred when their sewage holding tanks are pumped and dumped at the municipal treatment plant.
Under the new policy, residents will only be required to pay one dollar per cubic metre of sewage drained into the municipal system, versus the two dollar per cubic metre rate currently charged.
Brian Barnett, chief engineer for the municipality, said residents could also save significant dollars if Carney's Waste Systems agrees to a plan to pump out its transfer trucks in Emerald, rather than at the sewage plant all the way back in Function Junction.
"We had discussions with Carney's about using the dumping station out there, and we would hope that they and the residents can establish a regular schedule," he said. "It depends on the residents and how well they try to organize themselves."
Barnett said homeowners could see as much as a 50 percent reduction in their pumping charges, which are currently averaging about $180 per month.
Some homes in Emerald have septic fields, but most have sewage holding tanks.
Reducing the tipping fees associated with the tank pumping is expected to represent only a $4,000 to $5,000 annual loss for the municipality. Barnett said he hopes the plan will help satisfy the many Emerald residents who have submitted letters complaining of the high cost.
At the request of council, John Nelson, director of public works, explained plans for completing the Emerald sewer connection are still expected to take three-years.
Nelson said engineers will use a mixture of existing maps, aerial photos and reports from residents themselves to design the most efficient plans for sewer lines through Emerald, much of which sits on solid rock.
An initial on-ground inspection was carried out in 1994, with further survey work and aerial photos taken in 1995. The survey aircraft flew at a lower altitude over the subdivision to get more detailed data.
Once (or if) the project is given the necessary cash by council, Nelson said the municipality will organize resident information meetings and show some preliminary design concepts.
"We'll take a picture of each lot and blow it up and ask them for their information and the location of all the outlets," he said. "We also need to look at other associated projects like hydro and road improvements, so we can tie them in with tearing up the roads for sewers."
Nelson said planning will take two to three months of the first year of the project, with full construction to be carried out over a total of three years. Some elements of the work will be conducted in phases.
He said the project will also present significantly more challenges than a standard design carried out on undeveloped land.
Councillor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden said the sewer extension will be a significant project which will require plenty of staff resources, although a green light from council is still needed before any work begins.