Clearwater septage rates to nearly double

The TNRD board adopted a bylaw that allows for a disposal rate increase from $17.60/m3 to $30/m3

A photo taken last summer shows District of Clearwater public works employee Bryan Lipp standing next to the new septage treatment facility

Thompson-Nicola Regional District board of directors has voted to nearly double the disposal rate at the new septage facility in Clearwater.

This is important because nearly all of the residents of Clearwater and Electoral Areas “A” (Wells Gray Country) and “B” (Thompson Headwaters) use septic tanks.

The only exceptions are the several hundred Clearwater residents living in the area from Weyerhaeuser subdivision to past the hospital who are on town sewer.

During its Dec. 15 meeting the TNRD board adopted a bylaw that allows for a disposal rate increase from $17.60/m3 to $30/m3 for a metered rate at the septage facility in Clearwater.

Non-metered rates at the old Clearwater landfill septage pits, which are being decommissioned, are to go up correspondingly.

The rates for the septage pits will come into effect on Jan. 1.

The newly constructed Clearwater septage receiving facility is still owned by the TNRD (although operated by the District of Clearwater) with transfer of the asset expected in 2017.

Until that time, the TNRD will reopen and operate the septage pits at the old Clearwater landfill for a final season.

Rates set for use of the pits at the old Clearwater landfill have remained unchanged since 2013 and the rate increase in this bylaw is largely due to the inadequacy of disposal rates to provide break even revenue for system operation and maintenance as intended.

The TNRD has been the provider of the location and operation of septage disposal facilities for residents of District of Clearwater and Electoral Areas “A” (Wells Gray Country) and “B” (Thompson Headwaters).

A number of years ago, it was determined that the septage disposal pits at the Clearwater landfill and the Blue River transfer station needed to be decommissioned following the closure of both locations.

A study identified the District of Clearwater sewage lagoons as a viable site to locate a new septage receiving station.

TNRD and the municipality reached an agreement whereby TNRD would oversee the construction of the facility. Upon completion and the expiry of the construction warranty, District of Clearwater would take over the asset (including operation).

Construction has been completed and the warranty has now expired. Plans are underway to transfer the asset to the District of Clearwater in the Spring of 2017

The new septage receiving facility in Clearwater will not be operational during the 2016/17 winter and, for this final season, the TNRD will operate the septage pits at the old Clearwater landfill.

Although it will be operated by District of Clearwater, the new septage receiving facility will serve the residents of District of Clearwater as well as Electoral Areas “A” and “B”.

District of Clearwater will enact its own septage disposal fee bylaw by the time that the asset is transferred and it is intended that the rates proposed in this bylaw amendment will be mirrored by the District.

After review of the operation and maintenance costs (including capital reserve requirements), it has been determined that $41,400 is required annually for this purpose.

Based on the estimated disposal quantity of 1,600 m3/year, the rate required to break even is at least $26/m3. The proposed rate for the new Clearwater septage receiving facility where a flow meter is used to assess the disposal fee is $30/m3.

The decision is expected to affect 4,150 residents, which is the combined population of Clearwater and Electoral Areas “A” and “B” from the 2011 census.

Below: A chart shows that the present rate charged to receive septage at the new facility in Clearwater is lower than any nearby community except Kamloops.      TNRD graphic