Gull Lake residents troubled by sewer issues

The landowners of Raymond Shores face growing concerns as sewer line problems that plagued the community

The landowners of Raymond Shores face growing concerns as sewer line problems that plagued the community have created mounting costs for them.

Over the last few winters, frost in the ground has caused sewer pipes to shift and separate, allowing groundwater to infiltrate. “What has happened after last winter, our infiltration in our sewer system had expanded a lot,” said developer Bob Dawson.

Engineering services have proposed a method of using heated tape, hoping it will insulate the pipes and solve the issue.

Action was taken over the summer to enter the sewer system, find the problem areas and push the pipes back together.

“There was a number of them that pulled apart,” said Dawson. He says approximately 80 homes needed some sort of repairs out of the 296 in the gated community.

However, some homeowners are less than impressed with the efforts undertaken to address the problem. Two owners spoke with Ponoka News on condition of anonymity.

The two homeowners feel the issue has gotten worse over time and that action was not taken quickly enough.

Between the months of July and September 2014, affected landowners received a notice that they had to make their sewer lines accessible for cameras to enter them and find the infiltration.

This required the tops of the lines to be cut and a cap installed. “Everyone supposedly had to do that,” said one landowner.

In September, after the cameras were installed and the landowners received an email from Sunreal Property Management, “…saying our lot was one of the ones needing repair,” said the other landowner. In October, The Trenchless Guys were hired to reline the pipes. “We weren’t given an opportunity to find out about how this really was going to work,” he added, referring to the mandated option.

As of Oct. 1, the board of Raymond Shores had not decided who would be covering the costs but landowners were told they would be informed as soon as one of three funding options was chosen.

Mid-October the sewer was relined. On Dec. 12 the two landowners received an invoice for the relining 15 feet pipes totaling $3,360, due Dec. 31, 2014.

They say they refused to pay the bill, as did others and have received a corresponding late notice.

One landowner says he never had an issue making the pipes accessible for the camera and would not mind paying a portion of the bill but does not feel landowners should be held accountable for that much money. “I understand Sunreal needs access (to my sewer) but how do they have the right to spend my money?”

In a list sent out by Sunreal on June 24, the landowner’s lot was not labeled as needing repairs.

Raymond Shores is located on northeast end of Gull Lake and the oldest developments in the community are not quite a decade old. “If this thing was 20 to 30 years old. I could see a sewer problem at a house,” said one of the two landowners interviewed.

“Raymond Shores is (approximately) eight years old, problems could have occurred in that time,” said assistant CAO Tom Webber of Ponoka County.

Another concern for the two landowners is that the pipes have never been inspected.

However, Webber says condominium communities are different than other types of rural subdivisions. “What happens on a major construction job like that is the (responsibility of) developer, he hires an engineering firm to oversee the construction.”

He added that it would not be up to the county to send an inspector to check the pipes.

Webber says in condominium communities, everyone shares the liability of the system. “It’s unfortunate but it is what it is.”

Another concern of the landowners is that the sewer pipes may come from Florida and are not warranted; only the plumber’s work is warranted.

However many plumbers use pipes manufactured in the US and as long as it is Canadian standards approved (CSA) there is not an issue; Webber says the pipes are CSA approved. Pipes themselves also are not usually warranted; only a one-year manufacturer warranty for parts and labour would stand, according to central Alberta plumbing expertise.

No one was available to speak to the issue of payment. In an email to Ponoka News, Sunreal representative Mike Stevens says the Raymond Shores board cannot comment on the issue because “they do not have the expertise to comment with certainty.”