Cross-connection report brings preventive measures

Staff with the Town of Ponoka are now looking at preventive measures when inspecting new buildings.

Staff with the Town of Ponoka are now looking at preventive measures when inspecting new buildings.

Recently, the town had to foot the bill to repair cross-connected sewer and water lines to some homes in Ponoka. Since then, Dave McPhee, director of operations and property services provided town councillors March 25 with a mitigation report that is intended to prevent these errors.

“At the end of the day, we need a procedure in place to ensure this doesn’t happen,” explained McPhee.

As municipalities are responsible to inspect connections at the time of installation of the service lines, if there is no inspection, the town must pay for mitigation costs, which range from $3,500 inside a home to $7,000 outside of a home.

McPhee organized a committee to discuss past cross-connections and determine preventive measures to stop future errors occurring. “We talked about what we do if we do find one now,” he said.

He intends to develop and update bylaws that will ensure this issue is dealt with.

In the meantime there are three inspection triggers that the town will follow to be proactive:

• Development permit: The planning and development department will forward receipt of a development permit to the operations and property services department. This ensures town inspectors know an inspection is forthcoming.

• Building permit: Once a permit application is received, planning and development will put a condition that the developer must complete an “Alberta One Calls,” which marks underground services.

• Alberta One Call notifications: Alberta One Calls will notify the town that the developer will be excavating and completing connections. Operations and property services will be able to make the necessary inspections. “It’s something I never thought of until planning and development brought attention to it,” explained McPhee.

Acting CAO Betty Quinlan was pleased with the report and the communication across town departments. “It’s starting to become more preventative and proactive.”

Deputy Mayor Carla Prediger was also pleased.

“I like the idea that there’s been a ton of discussion and lots of interfacing among the departments…Lots of checks and balances,” she said.

As Mayor Rick Bonnett was away, Prediger ran the meeting, as she is the acting deputy mayor at this time. Councillors rotate in the deputy mayor position.