Things are starting to flow in the long-awaited project to bring water to the village of Maxville.
“We’re happy that this is finally happening,” said Maxville councillor Carma Williams. “People have been waiting for this for a long time.”
On Tuesday, October 3, members of the Township of North Glengarry announced that design and planning has begun to route water from Alexandria’s water system—sourced from the Garry River—as part of the $30-million project to bring municipal water to Maxville. The water treatment plant in Alexandria will also receive upgrades as part of the project.
Seventy-five percent of the project’s cost ($22.5-million) is currently covered by provincial and federal funding—50 percent from the federal government and 25 per cent from the provincial government. The township says it will continue to push for more funding from the provincial government while the project is ongoing.
The township had considered two water sources for the project, one being the supply out of Alexandria and the other the St-Isidore/Wendover system. According to the township’s assessment, the project would have cost $32.4 million to route the water from St-Isidore, with additional operating costs of $370,000 per year. In contrast, routing the water from Alexandria is estimated to cost $29.9 million and $289,000 in operating costs per year. This difference in operating costs would equal $3.5 million over 10 years.
Alexandria’s water supply currently operates at 38 per cent capacity. The Raisin Region Conservation Authority says it has no concerns with the volume or quality of raw water in Garry River.
The township will put out tenders for construction of the water tower and distribution pipes over the next two weeks. While the exact plan for the route will only be determined as the contracts are filled and the planning process proceeds, the township says that construction in Maxville will begin as soon as possible. The township expects to complete construction of the water tower before December 31 of this year, while the distribution and sewer pipes will be phased throughout 2018.
The township says it expects to complete the project sometime in the 2019 calendar year, though an exact time frame is not yet available.
The long wait for water
Water problems have been an issue in Maxville for a long time, says Williams.
“These issues have gone back 125 years. I saw an article from the 1950s saying that water would finally be coming to Maxville. So yes, it’s been a long time coming.”
Owing to its geographic placement and particular topology, Maxville sits at a high point between both the St. Lawrence and the Ottawa rivers. This means that water tends to flow away from the village towards the rivers, leaving its underground aquifers under-filled and unfit to sustain the demands of its 850 residents.
Maxville installed a sewer system in the 1980s, with hopes to improve the quality of well water for the residents but this ultimately proved insufficient to remedy the water situation overall.
Over the past decade, the township has tried multiple initiatives to bring water to Maxville. Previous to this current project, the plan that came closest to succeeding was a series of attempts from 2010 to 2016 to bring in water from Cornwall. Williams says the plan fell through when the province backed out after seeing the project’s $64 million price tag.
Maxville resident, Jim Ferrier, says he’s “cautiously optimistic” that the current plan looks likely to go through this time. Though he has no problems with his current well, Ferrier says he thinks having access to a municipal water supply will only improve the quality of life for residents of the village overall.
“I’m hopeful that we’ll finally have water here and, you know, it’s really what we need,” Ferrier said.
Costs for the residents
For Maxville residents, the township projects an increase in combined water/sewer rates from $1,093 per year to between $1,191 to $1,297 per year, where the exact rate depends on whether the township can successfully lobby for more funding from the province. This rate also includes sewer charges of $405 per year.
Maxville residents have two options when paying for the service. The first option is to pay the rate as part of their water bill, with the current rates of $60 per month set to rise to between $65 to $74 per month once the system has been installed. The second option would be to reduce rates through a capital buy-in, whereby residents can pay $2,400 to $5,500 up front, and save $79 to $185 per year for the next 30 years.
According to North Glengarry CAO Dan Gagnon, the capital buy-in option does not migrate with the resident if they choose to move from their place of residence at the time of making the buy-in. In other words, if a resident moves, the incoming homeowner would inherit the lower billing rate—the outgoing homeowner would not take the rate with them.
There will also be a one-time cost to connect residents to the system and to decommission wells from household plumbing. The township estimates that cost at approximately $2,600—$1,400 for the exterior line, $800 for well decommissioning, and $400 for interior plumbing.
All residents who can be serviced by the water system must hook up to the water system, according to North Glengarry Public Works Director Ryan Morton.