Water, waste water and waste management committee meeting gets heated

BARRY’S BAY – The water, wastewater and waste management committee of Madawaska Valley, (MV) met as scheduled on the morning of January 15.

Many members of the public were present in order to participate in the meeting, and to support George Gauthier, who was available for delegation.
Gauthier was present to discuss the revenue and expenses of the committee, and hoped to clarify some items.
Prior to the meeting, Gauthier had sent an email to the committee, asking for several pieces of information.
The first was the invoices for the water supplied to the municipality for the previous two years. These properties would include the Paul J. Yakabuski Community Centre, town hall, water building, fire hall, wastewater building, watering of the parks, as well as all other municipal establishments.
The second item Gauthier had asked for was that the committee provide documented proof of these entries, being entered into the revenue of the water and wastewater budgets.
An itemized account of all revenue and expenses entered into the waste and wastewater accounts for the year 2012 was also an item he requested.
Brenda Sabatine, committee member, had the documents prepared, which contained 77 copies of water bills.
“One of the things he [Gauthier] itemized was an account of all revenues and expenditures entered into the water and waste water accounts in 2012. That hasn’t been completed, we are just in the midst of financing,” Sabatine explained. “We have eight properties that are owned within the service area, and they each get a bill. So what I have done is given you a bill, and I have also shown you where they have gone into the system.”
Gauthier also questioned the billing concerning the watering of the parks, as well as the fire tanks.
According to Sabatine, the parks and recreation committee budget is charged a set fee of $3,300 per year for the water they use, the same amount is applied to the fire committee budget.
The amount of water the set-fee permits is 80 tanker-trucks per committee, which according to Sabatine, is more than enough.
“If you are paying a flat rate for things well then obviously you are not being accountable for the amount of water you use, that you cannot put a meter reading to that bill,” Gauthier said.
“We pay a flat rate from two budgets, and that is for water usage for basically to water Zurakowski Park, and if the fire truck from the north hall comes up and fills up, and possibly when they’re back flushing or cleaning out the hydrants,” Sabatine explained, adding that the reasoning they have changed from their old system of doing things, which consisted of a portable meter used by the firefighters in order to measure the amounts of water used, was because of the time frame the firefighters have to get out to a call.
Gauthier asked the committee to produce proof that the township pays for water the same as the public, then explained he wants a deeper understanding of the loss that was mentioned during the January 7 council meeting.
“I want to know why we have such a discrepancy,” he requested.
“I think it is safe to say we don’t exactly know at this point in time. I think that has always been out there. I don’t think we have held ourselves [the committee] out as perfect, or anyone else as perfect. We are taking some steps,” Committee Chair, Shaun O’Reilly said, continuing to say that the committee is taking the necessary actions in order to solve the problem.
“Some of the bypasses have been identified… Unless someone else can offer up an explanation for that loss, we know it is not bubbling out of the ground through the distribution system, we know that the meters at the plant are calculated within bylaw within three per cent of accuracy,” he said.
“The billing process to everyone is a concern of mine,” O’Reilly stated. “We are looking at trying to collapse that loss number into some reasonable number.”
According to O’Reilly, if the amount of loss in water were to decrease, then so would the bills of the taxpayers.
“Because everything is billed through consumption, I would see a drastic drop in the water,” he explained.
Gauthier then ask committee member David Shulist what his plans were in order to right what is wrong.
“If we are using it, for fire or watering parks or whatever, we are definitely accountable for it… If you use something then you definitely have to pay your fair share,” Shulist said.
Gauthier handed committee members information on what other municipalities have done when they were in the same situation as the Township of Madawaska Valley.
“Once the township entered into an agreement to build a treatment plant, everybody in Madawaska [Valley] became users. You can look at it anyway you want; the municipal act states that… Everybody out there became the users [and] you are supposed to collect fees for that cost,” Gauthier said. Pointing at the papers he continued, “It offers solutions to the problem. There are over 10,000 people in Ontario that are on septic that pay these fees to the municipalities already… You don’t have any obligation to weasel out of it, you have to pay it. Simple as that.”
He continued to say that the law stipulates that everyone in the municipality owns the system and therefore must pay for that system.
Gauthier continued to point out the budget items which were brought forward during the meeting on January 7, by O’Reilly, and how they should have not been folded, but dealt with.
Shulist replied to the comment, saying that he wishes to ensure that the public is fully informed on the situation and that they have the opportunity to speak with the committee, as well as answer questions.
“We all have our opinions… We are going to put this out in an open form meeting in July… I think what will be beneficial here is that we get all the facts out there, [get] all our numbers in order,” Shulist said. “From there, the public can get the input. I’ll tell you right now, I am not comfortable making decisions for people who are not on that system,” Shulist said.

Story continues in the January 23, 2013 issue of The Valley Gazette.