The Smoky River Water Co-op is hoping to do expansion in 2018 and is considering changing the method of operations and maintenance.
However, the Co-op is seeking financial and administrative support from the M.D. of Smoky River No. 130 for that purpose. Several volunteer board members attended the M.D. council meeting in Falher on April 10 to highlight the challenges that they face.
“The Smoky River Water Co-op is at the point where we’re to big for a volunteer board to handle the operations,” says board member Gerry Noel. “But we’re too small to hire a full-time employee. We’re trying to find ways to work with the M.D., to find solutions for our M.D. ratepayers.”
The SRWC wants to open a dialogue with the M.D., adds secretary Rita Maure, who joined the discussion by phone.
The SRWC has been in existence since the late 1990s and is run by a volunteer board. As of April 2018, the SRWC has 317 households connected, with over 100 more households on their waiting list.
The M.D. allocated money for the 2015, 2016 and 2017 fiscal years, which amount to $500,000 and the board is asking for a 2018 allocation. The SRWC is also seeking assistance in terms of administration and maintenance.
It costs approximately $60,000 per km to hook up a new household, hence the board’s desire to seek funding and assistance from the M.D. But this doesn’t exclude other funding sources.
“We apply when federal and provincial grants are available,” says Maure.
The SRWC must meet certain criteria to be approved for grants. They applied for a federal grant in 2015, but it was declined.
The board and the M.D. have been meeting with MLAs and MPs to highlight the SRWC’s need for funding, and to connect those on the waiting list.
“The Smoky River region is unique in that wells aren’t really a safe water source,” says Maure.
“All options are expensive, wells, cisterns, dugouts, and coop connections, however with the other options, the operational costs are more expensive than the coop connection, and the water source is tested regularly.
Reeve Robert Brochu said council would take their requests under consideration.