Residents of Steady Brook will have to wait a while longer to get clean and safe drinking water. A tender to drill artesian wells came in well over the town’s budgeted amount.
For years, the Town of Steady Brook has been promising its residents and business owners clean and safe drinking water, but there is always something that seems to get in the way.
The latest obstacle, according to Mayor Peter Rowsell, is money.
The town issued a tender for the drilling of artesian wells and a reserve tank on Marble Mountain this summer, but the only bidder came in with a proposal double the $430,000 the town had budgetted. The mayor said council had no choice but to reject the offer, and will re-tender the project next spring.
He believes the timing of the tender led to the problem. It was issued in July, and most contractors already have projects in place. He thinks a spring tender will result in more competition and lower bids. While inflated costs could explain some increase, he said the blame cannot fall upon the engineers who provided the estimate since it was done some six years ago. Provincial officials have made adjustments to the project since then, he said, leading to changes in the design.
The delay in issuing the tender is the result of problems the town has been dealing with since the province approved $391,000 for the project in December 2013. Delays in dealing with provincial officials included getting flow tests completed and re-designs to the project such as enlarging the tank and changing pumps, Rowsell said.
The town is looking for ways, such as grants, to obtain more funding.
At times, people have had to deal with low or no water and countless boil orders. It is frustrating for people, acknowledged the mayor, and it has led to a lot of blame directed to council.
“I realize people are upset,” he said. “We have some serious money problems we have to straighten out because of the increases that are beyond our control.”
The water woes are also associated with a lot of mudslinging, according to Rowsell, and it is without merit.
“I tell people: I don’t have a special water line to my house,” he said. “I get the same shit coming out of my tap that they do.”