By Cole Parkinson
In the abandonment of the Scope Reservoir and the many issues it has brought, Municipal District of Taber council has made a decision on how they’re going to proceed with coming to a final solution.
During council’s regular meeting on September 11, they were presented with a quote on the costs to construct two dugouts on three properties.
With the Durupt’s owning two properties corresponding with one dugout and the Doerksen’s owning one property with one dugout, total estimates were at $45,750 and $38,900, respectively.
With Bow River Irrigation District looking to abandon the pipeline, which is used by both property owners, the BRID have said they will contribute $16,000 for Durupt and $13,000 in pipeline and $3,000 for Doerksen.
An M.D./BRID meeting was held on July 18 with Reeve Brian Brewin, Coun. Jennifer Crowson and Coun. Murray Reynolds in attendance.
During the meeting, BRID disclosed a total contribution of $32,000 was made toward construction of the required infrastructure for both the Durupt and Doerksen projects.
The Durupt family has lived on the property since the 1950s and hooked onto the water line in 1956 where it was looked after by the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration until 1970 when the Bow River Irrigation District took over.
“I talked with Claude and he wants to get moving as soon as possible, he wants to dig it out this year,” said Crowson.
A complete breakdown for the Durupt project was also given to council.
In the quote from Tom Stevens from Medicine Hat, the dugout excavating was set at $6,375, standpipe was $1,000, a pressure system and submersible pump was $1,500, electrical, wire and panel was $12,285, an aerator system was $1,500, poly hose and fitting for $5,345, fencing was $6,770, a pump house was $2,450, trenching and backfill for $13,250, and miscellaneous sand and gravel for $1,500.
“I have a little bit of an issue with some of the stuff they have included in here. One is an aerator system, fencing I’m not sure that is a part of this. We said we would get them a dugout, I’m not sure they need an aerator and fencing and everything else there,” stated Brewin. “I’d love fencing around mine and an aerator system but I don’t.”
Some on council were still not sure if the M.D. was responsible for helping build a dugout after they were allowed to use the pipeline.
“I look at it this way, in 1956 or 1952, whatever the year was, they were allowed to hook onto the pipeline. If they hadn’t been able to hook onto the pipeline, they would have had to dig a dugout. This isn’t our problem to fix,” said Deputy Reeve Merrill Harris.
The pipeline was abandoned by the Hays Water Users Association following construction of a reservoir by the M.D. of Taber in 2001 but at the time of the abandonment, three water users (Durupt, Doerksen and Wolfer) requested to remain connected to the line for raw water residential and farm use.
In 2012, Hays Water Users Association requested disbandment from the pipeline as they operated the Scope Reservoir to Hays Water Treatment Plant Pipeline with board operations subsidized by the M.D. of Taber.
The M.D. never sent invoices to any of the Scope Reservoir users for water use or maintenance.
“I’m with Merrill on this. I’ve said it time and time again, I think this opens a whole can of worms. Are we responsible for everybody’s dugout for their cattle? We have no responsibility here. We ended up with this pipeline, we didn’t have any agreements with these people to allow them to hook on, it was a long time ago. They’ve been using this, not paying anyone for a number of years now. They’ve known this was coming to a head, I don’t think it is our responsibility to ensure they have water when they knew it was going to be gone,” said Coun. John Turcato.
Other councillors though felt some responsibility to help out in some way.
“That was our main source of water to provide our ratepayers as well. I think before it’s not our responsibility, it was something we utilized and ran for many years,” added Crowson.
Turcato added the pipeline’s original use was for the hamlet and not for farmers in the area.
“We have since replaced it because we knew it was reaching its end of life. It was in good faith that they were allowed to use it. It wasn’t put in for their uses, it was put in for the hamlets use. When the hamlet stopped using it, they continued to use it so I don’t see how the M.D. has any responsibility,” he replied. “If we do approve this, I don’t know how many letters we’re going to get asking for assistance in digging dugouts. If you do it for one, you’d have to do it for everyone.”
Both Coun. Leavitt Howg and Reynolds expressed their support to provide some sort of assistance.
“I still feel the M.D. is responsible for helping them out to get them water because we are taking the water away essentially,” added Howg.
Coun. Crowson put forward a motion to give Durupt $15,000 and Doerksen $10,000 for construction of their dugouts.
The motion was defeated with a 4-3 vote as Coun. Tamara Miyanaga, Turcato, Harris and Brewin opposed.
A second motion was made by Miyanaga to pay a maximum of $6,375 for dugout excavation of both residents and was passed with a 4-2 vote.
Harris and Turcato opposed the motion.