End to Boil Water advisory in sight for some sectors of Vaudreuil-Dorion
PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG
After years of drinking bottled water, parts of Vaudreuil-Dorion including Hudson Acres and Tree Farm will be getting potable drinking water from their own taps after opting to hook up to city infrastructure. Residents in the smaller Domaine-en-Haut sector are still consuming bottled water or boiling their tap water as they wait for an affordable solution to address their area’s compromised system.
An end to the Boil Water Advisory for residents in the Hudson Acres, Tree Farm and Ritchie sectors of Vaudreuil-Dorion is in sight. “We received a notice saying the work is starting at the end of February and we should have water by the end of May,” Hudson Acres resident Louise Gauthier told The Journal on Monday, February 18. “As much as we’ve enjoyed having bottled water delivered every week by Richard, a very kind and helpful man, it will be nice to have our tap water back,” she added.
The work in question is the installation of a new water pipe along Route Harwood that will connect the sectors originally served by local municipal wells to the city water system. Vaudreuil-Dorion City Councillor for District 4 Céline Chartier confirmed the news. “We have been waiting for a signature from the Quebec government. We had chosen the contractor and that had to be approved by the Ministry of the Environment. That took about three months. We received it in December,” said Chartier. The contractor was then able to order the pipes and other materials required for the project. The installation was originally slated to begin in February 2017 but was delayed until the spring of 2018 while various Ministries of the Quebec government evaluated and approved each step.
A winter project
Snow and winter conditions are not expected to hinder the schedule according to Chartier. “They will be working underground using a push-pipe method,” she said. “Everything should be terminated during the month of May.” Chartier said she was reluctant to give a precise end date for the project as weather conditions in April, such as rain, could have an effect.
Installation of the approximately two kilometres of aqueduct between Como Estates and Hudson Acres is not expected to disrupt traffic on Route Harwood.
According to Director of Land Use and Development for the city, Olivier Van Neste, the contractor will be using the push pipe technology as much as possible but digging in some areas will be necessary. At some points, the work will be close to the road but, “It shouldn’t have to be closed,” said Van Neste on Thursday, Febraury 21. He said traffic could be reduced to one lane on a temporary basis.
The Boil Water Advisory for Hudson Acres and Tree Farm residents began in November, 2013 and continued when it was determined the well for the area was seriously compromised. Similarly, in 2015 the residents serviced by the Ritchie well were faced with the same issue. The city provided residents with bottled water and consulted with them regarding two possible solutions: dig new wells or install a connecting pipe to the municipal water supply. In the end, the residents chose the latter option. The city also obtained a grant from the Quebec government to cover 50 per cent of the cost project that was estimated at $2 million in 2017.
Domaine- en-Haut is another neighborhood on Route Harwood in Chartier’s sector that has issues with access to potable water and a secure wastewater management system. “Their current sewage system is not connected to the city system,” said Chartier. “This year, the connecting pipe for the sewage system will be installed,” she said although she did not have specific dates for the project. “The city has obtained the right of way to go through some agricultural land.” According to Chartier, the current sewage system for the area has an overflow problem and effluent had leaked into an adjacent valley and stream.
Independent sewage system
On Thursday, February 21, Director of Land Use and Development for the city, Olivier Van Neste, clarified the situation concerning the sewage treatment system for Domaine-en-Haut.
“There are two projects for that sector. One project is to install an independent sewage treatment system in that area. The expropriation of agricultural land is for the aqueduct because they need water,” said Van Neste. Both projects are waiting for subsidy approvals.
“We are working on the fiscal part this summer,” he said. Van Neste was not certain as to why the city would choose to install an independent treatment system. “There is already a system in place and when it was evaluated it was probably less expensive to continue with an independent system,” he said adding that although maintaining independent systems can be problematic, the cost of connecting to the municipal system in certain cases, can be prohibitive.
Municipal water project
Connecting the group of homes to the municipal water system is not part of that project, however. “People living in that area don’t necessarily have the means to pay for the installation,” Chartier said pointing out she had raised the issue with Mayor Guy Pilon and members of council. “I’ve asked the departments to search for grants to help out with the project.” Issues with potable water for the neighbourhood date from 2010 when residents began having to boil the water from their faucets or buy bottled water.
Waiting for approval
Van Neste didn’t have a timeline for the aqueduct because it’s in the early stages of the planning process. “We received the authorization that we are eligible for a subsidy. We need to send the plans. I don’t have a construction date, yet,” he said describing the process as similar to the Hudson Acres, Tree Farm and Ritchie project. According to Van Neste, the city had proposed projects to the Domaine en Haut residents to solve the potable water problem. On both occasions, the residents refused the offer.
“The way it was explained to me,” said Van Neste, “in the case of Hudson Acres and Tree Farm, the citizens chose the option of connecting to the city water system. They accepted to be charged for the work. The city couldn’t do anything about the delay and decided to provide bottled water in the meantime,” said Van Neste.
For Domain-en-Haut, providing bottled water would have been a permanent rather than a temporary solution because the residents had refused the proposals to connect to the municipal system.
“The problem is that there are not a lot of houses in that area so, per house, it’s a lot of money in taxes every year. It has a huge effect,” said Van Neste. However, residents pay for infrastructure. That is how Vaudreuil-Dorion has developed Van Neste added. “That’s why we are waiting for subsidies,” he said. “Maybe that will make it interesting for the residents of Domaine-en Haut.
*Note - due to incorrect information provided to The Journal, this updated and correct version of the story differs slightly from the print edition of February 21.