The Sun Peaks Mountain Resort Municipality assumed responsibility for the water and wastewater facilities on March 23, 2017. Since that time, we have been monitoring total resort usage of water and investigating our future supply issues. Up until last year, our water was coming totally from ground aquifers located throughout the valley. For several years, our municipal engineers have been reporting that the ground aquifers are not always replenishing the ground supply as fast as we are taking out water. Last year, we used approximately 30,000 m3 of surface water from the snowmaking reservoir owned and operated by Sun Peaks Resort LLP in order to meet the increasing demand. This helped us get through the ski season and we plan to do something similar this winter.
To treat this surface water requires a more complex treatment system. Last Fall, we installed a portable surface water treatment plant up near the Elementary school. This was step one in a multi-year upgrade in order to meet our existing and future demand. We are planning to build a new domestic water supply reservoir up near the existing snowmaking reservoir. This work will begin in 2020 subject to permitting and construction schedules but will not be online until mid-2021 at the earliest. We should anticipate that water supply will become more expensive as upgraded treatment requirements are met. While increasing supply is important if we are to meet community needs, conservation should also play a role in our future consumption.
SPMRM will soon amend the rate structure for water supply by adding a multi-tiered consumption fee structure. This new fee structure is designed to reward those who conserve water and recognize those who overuse the water. The municipality will set the theoretical amount of water that a single family residence should use and likewise set the amount required for townhouses as well as hotel rooms etc. For those who use less than the theoretical amount, there will be no supplemental charges however for those who exceed the theoretical consumption levels, there will be supplemental charges for consumption that is in excess of the theoretical needs.
In 2002, Sun Peaks introduced the requirement for ultra-low flow fixtures. Since that time, homes and business have installed fixtures that meet the requirements of 4.0 and 6.0 L per flush toilets. A number of properties constructed prior to 2002 have now converted to these higher efficiency toilets. Caroma now offers a 3.0L single flush toilet that have solved a number of issues including usage and bowl staining. Further conservation methods can include converting showerheads and bathroom sink aeration devices on taps.
The municipality has compared flows to a number of residential properties as well as hotel and townhouse projects. This has enabled staff to review average consumption by land use. The results are a bit shocking in that there are huge differences between some residences. High usage properties sometimes use more than 400% more water than the average residence in a given month. In hotel properties, we observe that two hotels of similar size, one with new efficient toilets and shower heads uses only 35% of the supply going to a hotel that has older toilets and showerheads.
The municipality hopes to phase in the new rates over the coming year. However, it is obvious that some property owners need to review their fixtures now. Inefficient fixtures will lead to considerable increases in costs. We highly recommend that property owners convert the less efficient fixtures as quickly as possible. We have only recently realized the consumption differences between properties and understand that a considerable amount of our treated water is not used as efficiently as it could be. With the high usage period upon us, we are hopeful that all property owners will review their fixtures and convert to the most efficient water fixtures and watch their personal water usage.
We apologize for the short notice as we are trying to phase in the new rates, but it should be clear, without a water conservation mindset, efficient toilets and shower fixtures, some customers may see significant increases to their utility bills.
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