Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Is $2 million enough?

by Kate Bouey - CASTANET Sep 7, 2016 / 5:00 am
The state of the City of Vernon's infrastructure has come under question after a number of recent water main breaks, including two major incidents – one that flooded the lower portion of Kal Tire Place and another that caused the closure of 32nd Street, diverting highway traffic heading north. While the breaks have occurred within city limits, the Greater Vernon Water utility is actually responsible for replacing the pipes, and management is wondering if enough is being spent to do just that. “GVW is in a similar state of most North America utilities in that many of our pipes and infrastructure are nearing their end of life and need to be replaced,” said Zee Marcolin, manager of the water utility. “GVW currently budgets about $2 million per year to replace aging infrastructure.” A study is currently underway by outside consultants to see if that is enough annual cash given the state of the infrastructure. “Within the City of Vernon we have water mains labelled as pre 1926 in our GIS system (computer model of our water system) – which means we are not sure how old they are, but are likely older than 1926,” Marcolin explained. “Most of these pipes are downtown Vernon, where you see construction projects every summer as we are working with Vernon to replace infrastructure every year.” Marcolin said that once the study is complete, water staff will reassess its current allocation and may look to the North Okanagan Regional District board for a hike in the infrastructure renewal budget. “If it is a sizable increase we would likely recommend a phased increase,” she added. Last year, Greater Vernon Water completed a project with UBC that provided the utility with tools to predict high priority areas where pipes must be replaced in order to avoid breakage.

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