All County, All the Time Since 2010 MAKE THIS YOUR PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY HOME...PAGE!  Friday, December 8th, 2023

Residents flood town hall, thirsty for information on water supply plans

By Sharon Harrison
If the long queue of people along Bloomfield Main Street was any indication the importance of the issue of water supply in the County, the number of people crammed inside the town hall confirmed it.

While County staff may have misjudged just how many folks would show up at the public consultation (where a larger location would have made viewing the many information boards a more comfortable and faster task), the session on the regional water supply servicing master plan appeared well-received by those residents who dropped by to learn more.

The municipality is undertaking a study to identify and evaluate drinking water servicing alternatives for the long-term needs to support growth and ultimate build-out within the urban areas of Picton, Wellington and Rossmore, and the villages of Bloomfield, Ameliasburgh, Peat’s Point, Consecon and Carrying Place.

The master municipal class environmental assessment master planning process initiated will identify long-term drinking water servicing strategies for the municipality.

The purpose of the master plan is in part to anticipate population growth, described as “rapid and significant” in the next 20 years in Prince Edward County, especially in Wellington and Picton urban centres. Further, it was noted that some municipal water systems experience limitations due to aging infrastructure.

The County’s municipal drinking water is delivered by four County-owned and operated independent drinking water systems, and two distribution systems.

The drinking water systems include Ameliasburgh (sourced from Roblin Lake), Consecon/Carrying Place (sourced from Bay of Quinte, and supplied by the City of Quinte West), Peat’s Point (sourced by groundwater well), and Picton/Bloomfield (sourced from Picton Bay).

The two distribution systems are Rossmore/Fenwood Gardens (sourced from the Bay of Quinte, and supplied by City of Belleville), and Wellington (sourced from Lake Ontario).

Presented in a series of information boards at the open-house style session was background information, including the existing condition of facilities and their capacity assessments, as well as long-list of alternatives considered for each water system.

Eliminated from further consideration from the long-list of strategies for each area were “limit community growth” and “reduce water demands”.

The short-listed alternatives for each water system were also presented.

Here, the recommendations for the Consecon and Carrying Place water distribution system is to “do nothing”.

For the Rossmore water distribution system and the Ameliasburgh drinking water system, recommended suggestions include either doing nothing, or to expand, upgrade or retrofit the existing water system.

For the Peat’s Point water distribution system, three options were presented in the short list: to do nothing; to obtain water from another municipal source through an interconnection with the Rossmore water distribution system; or provide a new water system through individual private groundwater wells.

With the Picton/Bloomfield drinking water system, it also suggested three recommendations, namely, provide a new surface water–based system in Picton (including new intake, water treatment plant, pumping, storage and connection to distribution system). This option would involve decommissioning the existing Picton water treatment plant.

The second option for Picton/Bloomfield is to retrofit the existing Picton system to remediate current deficiencies and supplement deficit in capacity through interconnection to the new water treatment plant in Wellington.

Option three is to obtain full servicing capacity from the new water treatment plant in Wellington through an interconnection to the Wellington drinking water system. This option would include decommissioning the existing Picton water treatment plant.

Consideration was given to centralizing municipal water servicing for northern areas of the County only (to include Ameliasburgh, Carrying Place/Consecon, Peat’s Point, and Rossmore), with the construction of a new water treatment plant.

Given the small size of the combined customer base of approximately 2,700 homes for the four areas, the high-level cost estimate of more than $50M-$70M was deemed financially prohibitive.

$143,557.00 (plus HST) was allocated in the 2021 budget for the study to be undertaken by a firm of consultants, CIMA Canada Inc., who were awarded the contract in March 2022, with work beginning on the study in December 2022. It forms part of a total of $402,868.00 (plus HST) allocated for three environmental studies awarded to this company related to the regional water supply servicing in the County.

Some attendees noted how there was a lot of information to digest, and the crowded room made it difficult to navigate the boards, with some finding the lack of take-away materials a hinderance.

With a short wait to get inside the hall, it was slow going for the first hour or so to get around to all the information boards, but it was well-organized and there was order as people worked their way around the room.

The public had the opportunity to individually ask questions to those County staff and consultants present, and there were a number of them.

Also present were CAO Marcia Wallace, Prince Edward County mayor Steve Ferguson, along with councillors John Hirsch, Janice Maynard, Brad Nieman and Sam Grosso, among them.

For those who choose to, and many did on the spot, attendees were also able to complete a comments and feedback form where they could outline their specific concerns and provide comment.

The public can still complete the form up until Sept. 15 either in person at Shire Hall, by mail to Shire Hall, or via email to the project team.

The County website contains all the details, as well as the study, including details of the information boards presented at the session. Click here for a pdf of the Bloomfield presentation boards

Next steps will involve a further public consultation to be held in Ameliasburgh in late fall (date to be confirmed). At this meeting, the preliminary preferred water supply servicing alternative for each water system will be presented, along with budget information for the preferred strategy.

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  1. SM says:

    The graphic, “Design Criteria” in this story shows a serviced population of almost 50,000 people in the County at “Buildout”. “Buildout” is not defined in the graphic or the story but in other County documents it falls somewhere between 2065 and 2070. In other County population study documents, the County 2051 population is suggested to increase by 9,000 people. In fact the County presented that as a fact in their ad in the Wellington Times on August 16. Quite a discrepancy: roughly 24,000 vs 9,000! Using 2070 as the build out year, the extra 19 years then would have growth of 15,000 people. The Ontario Ministry of Finance predicted growth of under 4,000 people by 2046 from base year 2021. Given that the need for waterworks expansion is predicated upon population growth, what number do we use as an accurate projection?

  2. Victoria Taylor says:

    Thank you for stating the facts from the meeting . It would be good to have more understanding from the consultants and County staff why “limit community growth” and “reduce water demands” have been eliminated from further consideration. It seems that this would be first places to start. There are many successful examples of low impact development requirements for planning and building and also demand reducing strategies to offset infrastructure expansion costs . Ottawa’s Rain Water Ready is just one of many programs happening nearby that we could look to as helpful, progressive precedents.

  3. Fred says:

    If we pump a hundred million into water infrastructure and there suddenly is no growth to paying hookups this County will see an exodus like none other. No one can afford any further rate increases.

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