Alberta Utilities Commission ceases control of water supply for community of Sharp Hill
By: Sara Wilson
| Posted: Thursday, Jan 30, 2014 01:13 pm
The Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) has taken control of the North East Airdrie Water System (NEWS) after many failed attempts by the AUC to force the company to obtain a water license.
The final move came Jan. 24 as the AUC moved quickly to file paperwork ceasing control of the water distribution centre after meeting with concerned residents from Sharp Hill – a residential community outside Airdrie.
The AUC has employed a third-party service provider, Corix Utilities Inc. – a Calgary based company – to provide for the operation and maintenance of NEWS and to provide safe water to the residents in Sharp Hill.
“You need a licence for this kind of system,” Jim Law, spokesperson for the AUI said.
“(NEWS)’s water license expired in 2012, both the AUI and Alberta Environment said that they had to get a license in order to continue with operations.”
Concerns elevated when AUI was informed by residents of water quality concerns after it was discovered on Jan. 23 that the water delivery system NEWS used was unpressurized – essentially opening up for the possibility of unsanitary drinking water for the near 30 homes in the area.
The ongoing problem left Sharp Hill residents having to fend for themselves, installing water tanks, according to AUI documents obtained by the Airdrie City View.
“The storage tanks many of us have installed in our garages are a stop gap measure only,” Randy Patterson, a member of the Sharp Hill Steering Committee wrote to the commission on Jan. 23. “It is not practical to use these tanks on an extended basis.”
Patterson explained the average water usage for a family of four is 45 cubic metres – which would equate to a cost of $1,200 to $1,500 per month to ensure the residence had access to clean water, water that would be required to be trucked in.
Correspondence between the commission and Michael Dockman –director of Dockman & Associated operator of NEWS – dates back to 2011, however, on May 30, 2013 Alberta Environment issued an enforcement order stating that there were deficiencies and contraventions of the existing operations that Alberta Environment gave approval to NEWS to issue water to Sharp Hill.
That approval to operate would expire on June 20, 2013 if requirements – such as a valid water licence – were not met.
Alberta Environment issued another enforcement notice on Sept. 30, 2013 stating that NEWS needed to apply for a proper license and a final date of Jan. 20, 2014 was given to Dockman before AUC would take action in ceasing operations.
“(Dockman) didn’t do what was required to provide safe, adequate and proper access to drinking water,” Law said.
“He didn’t get a proper license. The residents of Sharp Hill are very happy with the situation now.”
Dockman has 60 days to file an application to reverse the decision.