A reply to clarify comments written in the August 3 issue of the Omineca Express regarding the water rate increase by Northside Water Service Ltd.
Before the utility is allowed to post a letter of intent to increase the water rates an extensive review by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, Water Management Branch is required. Letters are then sent out informing customers and they have 30 days to voice their concerns in written letters or emails, and a copy is also sent to the utility. We received three copies of letters sent to the ministry. Any improvements or developments in the utility’s area are tightly governed by the ministry in Victoria. We fall under the same scrutiny as BC Hydro, Pacific Gas and all water utilities not run by municipalities. We are not a private business. The utility hired a part time operator as of September 2010; he took his level one certification in 2008, which was paid for privately at that time. He is the third generation family member involved in the water system. The wages for two part operators is $36,500 annual per operator, and this does not include a benefit package, pension funds, etc.
For this wage an operator is required to be on call 24/7. Also he must have another part time job in order to have an income to support family, and this job must be flexible so that he can leave and attend to the utility if an emergency should arise. Water rates were posted to increase $8 a month effective July 1, 2011. Unfortunately Councillor Steve Little’s comments were incorrect. As a council member he should have been better informed as all the information is available to him. A phone call or email would have given him update and correct information. He mentioned no one has justified the costs, yet he did not ask for any information regarding costs. There have not been 10 rate increases; rather the increase in 2006 for the second well was spread over a four year period. A part time operator has already been hired for almost a year, funded privately by the owners in the interim. An information package was available for the expenses of the utility, but none was requested. Being on district council he should know that the District of Vanderhoof is entitled to grants; the last grant was for $1.5 million for the treatment plant. Therefore water operations do cost more if it is not in a municipality.
A cost that most customers are not aware is the water frontage fees on property taxes every year; this cost is extra and not included in the user fee for residents on the District of Vanderhoof water system. There have not been 10 rate increases; rather the increase in 2006 for the second well was spread over a four year period.
Greg Manwaring/President/certified level 1 operator Northside Water Service Ltd.