Water loss flushing away $1.5 million in revenue in Petrolia

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Petrolia wants to know where its water is going.

Mike Thompson, director of operations, says right now up to 17 per cent of the water treated at the Petrolia plant is lost.

Thompson says every year the town treats about 200,000 cubic meters of water that is never billed out and that means big financial losses for the town. The revenue lost for just the water is $350,000. But the impact is even larger on the sewage side. The sewage rate is based on the water usage and that means nearly $1.2 million is lost in sewage revenue.

Thompson told council during Monday’s council meeting aging water meters are the main problem. “Generally, water meters slow down (as they age) they don’t speed up…that likely accounts for the water loss in the town.”

Council has set aside $250,000 in 2016 to replace water meters that are over 10 years old. It’s the first phase of a three-year plan since it would not be physically possible to replace all of the aging water meters in town in one year.

The meters each cost $110 and will be installed by a contractor.

Thompson says meters could be read remotely however the town will be continuing with meter readers. He says the cost to get the computer equipment and hire the staff to do the billing would be far greater than the $65,000 the town pays Bluewater Power to process its water and sewage charges.

The new meters are only part of the capital plan for 2016 for water and sewage. The town plans to spend $2.180 million on water projects including replacing the intake at the water plant in Bright’s Grove and paying for the water lines beneath Petrolia Line. More than half that expense will be covered by water rates, the rest $1.286 million will be financed.

The capital plan on the sewage treatment side is larger. The town will finance its share of the new $25 million wastewater treatment plants this year – about $4.4 million. About $832,000 is needed  for the sewage works under Petrolia Line and another $586,000 will be spent to replace the first of the lift stations in town.

About $1.29 million will be financed from the current rates and another $4.6 million will be financed through a loan.

The town is increasing water and sewage rates by three per cent this year – seven per cent less than originally anticipated in a consultants report which the town has been following to set rates.

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