Fifteen people attended the Smoky River Water Co-op AGM at Smoky Lanes Bowling in Girouxville on April 18.
Established in 1996 and providing service to its members since 1999, the SRWC is registered under the Rural Utilities Act and operates through an elected board. At present, there are 316 members connected and 144 waiting for service.
Through the Water Commission and the hamlets, the SRWC provides water to rural members. The MD operates the hamlets and the Water Commission runs transmission lines to those locations.
From that point on, the municipalities take over distribution and the Water Co-op does the same, picking up from the transmission lines and then distributing water through its lines to co-op members such as farmers and acreage owners.
The SRWC purchases most of its water from the Water Commission but also from the Town of McLennan. The Co-op is re-charged by the villages of Girouxville and Donnelly after it has gone through their distribution systems because it is metered at a different point.
In 2015, the SRWC provided 65,922 cubes of water to its members, up from 63,641 cubes in 2014, marking an increase in consumption of 3.5 percent.
The process by which members are hooked up to services is determined by cost, essentially the most cost effective means of providing services to as many people as possible. Those in distant, isolated areas may have to wait for the lines to make their way out to that region before it becomes financially feasible to provide service.
“It is hard to use up five-hundred thousand dollars on one person when you could service twenty,” says SMWC, Secretary-Treasurer Rita Maure. “With funds from federal and provincial grants we do look at those who have been waiting the longest and in those instances the age of the membership is how that is determined but again it is the most feasible ones.
“For instance, if there were three people on a line and the first is two miles out and the other two less than a mile further, then the cost would be averaged out, which is part of a co-op basis.
The more people that are getting services the closer the lines get to members in more isolated areas.”
Following the auditor’s report, Marco Gervais, Manager of Smoky River Water Commission gave a brief status report from the Smoky River Water Commission. The Water Commission is a separate entity from the Water Co-op, though people often confuse the two.
Gervais talked about the Water Commission having replaced two filters in its system, the first in December 2014 and the second in January 2015 and that the plant is operating very well since. The filter replacements cost the Water Commission a half-million dollars, which came directly from its budget, but Gervais described it as a half-million dollars well spent as the filters have removed certain threats to the water, some of which can be resistant to chlorine.
Reading the president’s report, Claude Sirois cited some past concerns and future objectives of the Water Co-op, such as flooding issues with the booster pumps in 2015, which caused some water pump issues. To to alleviate flooding, make it easier to service and less strenuous on the equipment the Co-op is looking at putting a booster pump in a building above ground and at setting up an alarm system.
While the MD has committed some money for 2015 and 2016 towards water, Sirois encouraged those attending the AGM to seize every opportunity to impress on their MP, MLA and MD councilor the importance of water, emphasizing the importance of keeping water a focus of representatives in all levels of government.
He also pointed out that due to the recent water crisis in Flint Michigan that access to clean water is becoming a greater priority.
The Water Co-op is also examining the situation regarding infrastructure money committed in the last federal election and is planning to reapply for funding.
The Smoky River Water Co-op board appointed at the 2016 AGM consists of Gerry Noel (chairperson), Richard Veraart (Vice Chairperson), Rita Maure (Secretary-Treasurer). The other directors are Daniel Aubin, Yvon Aubin, Tracy Prellwitz, Claude Sirois, Gilbert Valiquette and the MD rep is Andre Trudeau.