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Pincher Creek’s water and wastewater bylaws change Sept. 1: What does this mean for you?

Wednesday, 24 August 2022. Posted in Shootin' the Breeze

Pincher Creek’s water and wastewater bylaws change Sept. 1:
What does this mean for you?


With the end of August one week away, the Town of Pincher Creek wants to get the word out about an upcoming change: on Sept. 1, the town’s new water and wastewater bylaws (Bylaws 1631 and 1632) come into effect.

Town administration has spent the last 18 months overhauling the bylaws, consulting each department and meeting with landlords and local businesses to ensure the bylaws accounted for their needs.

Council approved the new bylaws at the end of June, but town residents and businesses may have questions about why new bylaws were needed and how the changes might affect them. What follows is a breakdown with everything you need to know about the new water and wastewater rules.

Why the changes?

“The existing water and sewer bylaw was very basic and had a lot of grey areas and a lot of gaps, especially when it comes to industry,” says Alexa Levair, Pincher Creek’s manager of operations and infrastructure.

“As the town is growing and new developments, new subdivisions and new businesses are coming into town, we need to make sure our infrastructure is protected.”

The bylaw also establishes clear rules that promote investor confidence in the business community, adds Marie Everts, economic development officer for Pincher Creek.

“Investors are looking for communities with their ducks in a row,” she says. “Implementing this new bylaw means no surprises for developers — it is another way we are showcasing that we are open to new business.” 

Protecting the town’s water infrastructure now, Levair adds, will ultimately save taxpayer dollars in the future as the ability to enforce the bylaws’ standards will avoid costly replacements and repairs.

“These bylaws are a lot more thorough and allow us to enforce things that maybe we haven’t even thought of,” Levair says.

What do residents need to know?

Reading and understanding the legal jargon of bylaws can be tricky, but one major change for both water and sewer involves town utility accounts:

—Accounts will now be under the property owner’s name, allowing for unpaid utility bills to be applied directly to property taxes. This change stops the town from needing to go to collection agencies, which are paid using taxpayer money.

—Renter accounts will no longer be generated as of Sept. 1. However, renters can be added as a secondary name on the property owner’s account and will still be able to pay water utilities. Tenants will simply receive copies of the property owner's bi-monthly invoices which they can use to process payments. 

—Existing renter accounts will remain in effect; changes will only be made if there is a change in tenant or property owner, or if utility services are disconnected due to account arrears.

—Excessive water bills under $1,000 can have an adjustment request submitted to the chief administrative officer, rather than requiring council approval.

—Sewer charges will eventually be calculated according to usage, rather than the previous flat rate.

—Property owners will be required to install an initial water service connection to their property. Low-flow fixtures will also be required in new construction, and temporary water supplied for construction will also now come with a fee.

—The bylaws introduce significant fines for ignoring emergency water restrictions, trespassing on property containing water-treatment infrastructure and the town’s riparian zones, and turning on or off water valves without town authorization. All fines can be found in the fee-structure bylaw.

What do businesses need to know?

Many of the changes to the wastewater bylaw deal with how business and industrial properties dispose of water. For example:

—Specific limits on the concentration of different substances in wastewater, with their respective fines, are also now established.

—Monitoring access points (that is, a manhole) will be required for new industrial, commercial and institutional properties. The manhole will need to be installed on the property line to help with connection maintenance and sample testing.

—The bylaw requires specific pre-treatment processes before releasing wastewater for industrial uses that may exceed allowable concentration limits of harmful substances.

—A wastewater discharge agreement with the CAO must be signed before any wastewater generated outside the normal operation of a building (that is, hauled wastewater) can be dumped. The bylaw carries steep fines for dumping without such an agreement.

—Restaurants will require fat, oil and grease interceptors to prevent grease from entering the wastewater system; car washes and automotive servicing stations will also require an interceptor to stop hydrocarbons and other contaminants from leaking into the system.

Moving forward

Like all of the town’s legislation, a digital copy of the new water and wastewater bylaws is available online at pinchercreek.ca/town/bylaws.php.

As always, town staff are ready to help with any questions you might have at the office, over the phone at 403-627-3156, or by submitting a citizen request at www.pinchercreek.ca/request.