244 Street neighbours Jim Ward

Water woes on 244 Street

Langley Township residents who could see their private water bills increase tenfold looking to hook up to municipal line

A proposal to hook houses into the municipal water system along 244 Street and 56 Avenue has pitted neighbour against neighbour.

On one side are the customers of a private water supplier who hope to avoid a tenfold increase in their monthly bills, while on the other are people with their own wells who don’t feel they should be forced into connecting.

For about 42 years, 19 properties have been supplied by Nectar Waterworks Ltd., which pumps water from a well.

Nectar currently charges each home $35 a month for the service.

In July, the company obtained an order from the provincial deputy comptroller of water rights to raise the rate to $354 a month, phased in over three years.

Most of that, $301, is for a replacement reserve trust fund to cover the cost of replacing the aging pipes, which are nearing the end of their 50-year service life.

The company notified its customers of the decision in a letter that suggested they petition the Township for a municipal connection because it would cost “substantially less” than Nectar’s planned hike.

Nectar owner Gordon Dykstra said back when the company was formed and started pumping water, the plan was to have the municipality take over after 17 years.

Dykstra told The Times there were “two or three” attempts to negotiate that, but it never happened. Now, the lines are getting worn out.

“They are leaking and they are rusted out,” Dykstra said.

If the municipality takes over, Dykstra said he will be able to cap the well Nectar pumps from and see if “we can do something” with the property.

After meeting with Councillors Charlie Fox and Kim Richter and Ramin Seifi, the Township general manager of community development and engineering, a group of residents has launched a petition to have municipal waterlines installed.

“(The company) left us between a rock and a hard place,” said one of the residents, Ian Wightman.

The hookup would affect 35 residents, slightly more than half of them Nectar subscribers, while the others have their own wells.

Under Township regulations, if more than half the property owners vote for the connection, all property owners will have to pay.

Peter Walton said he is sympathetic to the situation of the Nectar subscribers, but believes their plan is unfair to the 16 properties like his, which have their own wells and don’t have to rely on either Nectar or the Township.

“I’m against it,” Walton told Wightman outside the open house.

“I need to be convinced otherwise.”

Walton estimates he would have to pay $20,000 (payable in installments over 20 years) plus the cost of connection and capping his well for a water system he doesn’t need.

A Sept. 21 open house held by Township staff found enough support to justify a formal survey of affected property owners.

Supporters of the plan have 60 days to canvass the neighbourhood for signatures.