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Emo water intake project lands funding

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Construction on Emo’s new water intake system should get started soon now that Ministry of the Environment funding through the Ontario Small Town and Rural development initiative (OSTAR) is in place.

The township next will advertise for tenders, as well as seek additional provincial funding through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corp. (NOHFC) to help pay for the project.

Emo council discussed the project’s progress in a conference call with Steve Burnett, an engineer with R.J. Burnside Associates Ltd. of Oakville, during their regular meeting last Thursday.

Department of Fisheries and Oceans approvals are in place, they’ve been quoted a firm price, and have an MoE certificate of approval. But it’s not all smooth sailing as is often the case in a project of this size.

“We’ve got to meet certain requirements by the end of 2002,” said Emo clerk/administrator Brenda Cooke. “And the water intake project can only be done in early spring or September.”

Burnett also expressed concern about getting the necessary permits due to the current OPSEU strike. “There could be a 10-week delay with the strike,” he noted.

But it’s been mostly good news so far. “We’re successful,” said Burnett.

The priorities have been the intake system, the feed system, and the flex connection, he noted. And OSTAR eligibility considered the system a health and safety issue and agreed to pay 60-70 percent of the cost of the estimated $440,000 project.

“We had a strong case to submit to OSTAR,” Burnett remarked.

The Heritage Fund also could pay up to 50 percent of the community’s portion of the price tag, leaving just $80,000 for Emo to cover.

But Emo Reeve Russ Fortier still was concerned with the cost. “What else is left to pay for?” he asked Burnett. “Can we tighten up some of the engineering and project management costs?”

“I understand you’re trying to be cost-effective,” Burnett replied. “But when you’re working on a project this size, with upgrades, drawings, and MOE [specifications], it essentially takes time.”

The cost of running the system also will include annual testing. And, in the wake of Walkerton, there probably will need to be an engineer’s report every three years to ensure everything is in order.

Emo has been experiencing low-water problems for years. Previously, council lowered the intake pipe in the Rainy River in hopes of ensuring a reliable water supply.

They also tried to drop another line further downstream, and enforced a water usage bylaw last August due to the overuse of treated water during dry weather.

Emo’s water treatment plant was not able to produce water fast enough to keep up with usage.

Burnett will be in Emo next week to further discuss the new intake system with council.

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