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FAQ: Rural Water and Sewer Servicing

The Rural Water and Sewer Servicing program is in place to upgrade the water, sewer and road infrastructure in the communities of Anzac, Conklin, Draper, Janvier, Gregoire Lake Estates and Saprae Creek Estates. 

Please see the below questions from the residents in these communities with the answers from the Municipality.

Water Systems

Q1: What will the rate of water flow be to my cistern and how long will it will take for my cistern to fill? 
A1: On average the flow rate will be approximately two liters /minute. From empty, it will take a cistern of 1000 gallons or 4500 liters approximately 38 hours to fill. After that the tank will 
keep filling as per the usage. 

Q2: Why was the trickle fill water system chosen for Draper and Janvier? 
A2: The trickle fill system was chosen in Draper and Janvier primarily due to population projections not warranting full pressure water distribution. The trickle fill system is a common method of piped water distribution used in rural communities. Full pressure water requires larger water mains and to prevent water from becoming stagnant a minimum flow of water is required. Achieving this minimum flow is difficult in areas of low density housing. 

Q3: In Draper, what is the cost of providing a full pressure water system with hydrants? 
A3: To upgrade Draper to the full pressure water system it would cost an additional $12.5 million dollars, which is approximately $164,000 per dwelling. 

Q4: What are the benefits of the trickle fill water system over trucked supply system? 
A4: The trickle fill water system is used in rural areas as it is more economical, reliable and environmentally friendly than the truck fill system. Additionally, this system delivers immediate water and is conveniently provided without the need to coordinate truck delivery. 

Q5: Why didn’t they develop the Draper water infrastructure when they did Saprae Creek? 
A5: The original design in Ward 3 included servicing to Saline Creek Plateau and Quarry Ridge developments. At the time of the design the population projections in Draper did not warrant this infrastructure development. 

Q6: I would like to know sooner than later if my H20 system is compliant and compatible with the proposed systems. When can I get an inspection? 
A6: Once the system is capable of hooking up, you will be able to get an inspection of your current system. Please see the timelines for service connections in your community on www.rmwb.ca/rwss. 

Q7: If I already have a 2” line laid up to property line to fill up my cistern inside of the basement, can I use the existing 2” pipe for water? 
A7: With the approval from the homeowner’s certified contractor, the 2” pipe for water 
could be utilized. 

Q8: In Draper, I live at the most east end up the hill. Will my house be fed through trickle fill or would extra pump be required? 
A8: There are a few houses that requires extra pumping to get the trickle fill system to their house. We are still in the design phase of this project and reviewing this situation to determine how best it can be serviced.

Q9: If I have a cistern inside my basement can I have a new cistern outside? 
A9: Homeowners or their selected certified contractor will determine where cistern is to be located. 

Q10: Can you install a lift station that will push material to the airport? 
A10: Yes, this lift station is currently in design and is anticipated to be complete in 2019. 

Sewer Systems

Q1: What are the benefits of the low-pressure sewer system that the Municipality is proposing versus the septic field system that homeowners are currently maintaining? 
A1: A benefit to the low-pressure sewer system is that ground water pollution is avoided by the sewage travelling through the municipal collection system and getting treated at the wastewater treatment plant. Additionally, the land currently dedicated for septic fields is freed up and can be re-purposed for other uses. The system is also useful where septic fields cannot be developed due to high underground water or proximity to water bodies. 

Q2: What are the challenges of installing a low-pressure sewer system in Draper? 
A2: Slope stability is the main challenge of installing a low-pressure sewer system in Draper. The low-pressure water system allows a less intrusive horizontal drilling technique whereas upgrading to the gravity sewer system would require vertical directional drilling. Open cut trenching is relatively dangerous and would introduce too great of risk to the slope stability in Draper. 

Q3: Do I need to replace my existing tank? Who will determine if my tank can be reused? 
A3: The homeowner or their certified contractor will determine if existing tanks meet the requirements of the proposed system. 

Q4: What’s the difference between Grinder & STEP? 
A4: A grinder pump is a pump that chops up solids and pumps into sewer main. A Septic Tank Effluent Pump (STEP) only pumps the liquid part of the effluent into the sewer main. 

Q5: How much is it to replace a grinder pump? 
A5: Grinder pumps can range from $2000–$3500 to replace. 

Q6: In Saprae Creek, is it too late to consider grinder pumps in the design? 
A6: Yes, extensive research was done into grinder pumps and septic tank effluent pumps (STEPs). It was determined that for Saprae Creek Estates the STEP system was the best choice. 

Q7: For lots on the hill in Draper will the tank be at the top or the bottom of the hill? 
A7: In Draper, tanks will likely be located in the same location as existing tanks (or nearby) unless not recommended for slope stability (the homeowner and their certified contractor will determine the location). 

Q8: What is the risk to the tank if it floods? 
A8: It is recommended that all homes have a backwater valve to protect themselves against floods and prevent sewage backup into the home. 

Q9: Where will electrical panels be located? Where will the power come from? 
A9: Control panels for the pumps and level controls can be located inside or outside the home. Power will be supplied from homeowner’s electrical panel, in or outside the house.

Q10: Are new pumps included in the proposed cost? 
A10: Funding and all associated costs for service connections is pending approval by Council in mid 2019. 

Q11: Will you consider a community vac truck service? Will you consider subsidizing pump-outs? 
Will you consider passing on pump warranties beyond the two years the municipality provides? 
A11: Yes, we will consider these suggestions. We periodically bring suggestions for improvements to Council for consideration. Warranties must be obtained from the homeowner’s contractor. 

Q12: Can old septic fields/mounds stay in the ground? 
A12: Yes, but it will be homeowners’ responsibility to maintain them. 

Q13: If existing tank need to be removed who covers the cost? 
A13: The cost to remove the existing tanks and the service connection funding is still pending Council review and expected in mid 2019. 

Q14: If I have a low-pressure sewer system, how will I be protected from sewer back-up? 
A14: The proposed system will have two check valves in the pump chamber which prevents backflow into the tank, and a high-level alarm in the tank to warn of potential problems. It is recommended that all residents have a backwater valve between the home and the tank to prevent sewage backups into the home. 

Q15: What type of septic tank is required? 
A:15 The proposed tanks requires two chambers; the first is the sludge chamber and the second is the pump chamber for liquid effluent. The pump chamber should be sized for an additional 24-hour storage in the event of power outage or pump failure. 

Q16: What is the main difference between the tanks required for this project and the one required under Alberta Private Sewage Systems Standard of Practice (APSSSOP) 2015? 
A16: The basic difference is that the Municipality’s design requires 24 hours storage volume on top of the volume requirements established under the Alberta Private Sewage Systems Standard of Practice (APSSSOP) 2015. 

Q17: How is the size of tank determined? 
A17: The sewage from your household will go directly to the sludge chamber. The volume of this chamber is to be determined as per the requirement of Alberta Private Sewage Systems Standard of Practice (APSSSOP) 2015. The pump chamber accepts the liquid from the sludge chamber and it is sized for pump operating volume plus one day of emergency storage. 

Service Connection Cost
In fall of 2014, it was proposed that the cost to residents of Anzac, Conklin, Draper, Gregoire Lake Estates and Janvier will be fixed at $16,000, as they are receiving both piped water and sewer systems. The cost to residents of Saprae Creek will be fixed at $10,000, as they are only receiving a new sewer system and an upgrade to their existing water distribution system. On November 27, 2018 a Rural Water & Sewer Servicing update was presented to Council. Council supported the recommendation to return with a service connection plan prior to the proposed 2020 budget workshops. This plan will include how residents will be able to pay their service connection fee. The aim is to answer all the below questions in this plan and make the payment structure as flexible as possible.

Resident Questions:

  • How much can we expect to pay monthly after hooking up?
  • What happens if there are cost-over-runs? Will the fee still be $16,000/$10,000?
  • How will the service connection contributions be collected? Tax bill or utility bill? What will be the timeframe?
  • Is there a cost for the permits to hook up? The inspection?
  • Some say we’re responsible for the street to tank connection and that it’s not covered under the $10,000 connection fee. Some have said the $10,000 connection fee stops at the road and that anything on our property is our responsibility (example-digging in sewer line, electricity for pump, replacing tank).
  • Will our tax rates reflect a lower rate than urban considering: the resident contribution and the additional costs to the residents to maintain the systems after the warranty period?
  • How will RWSS long term payments affect our utility bills?
  • Can RWSS residents receive a reduction in taxes?
  • For those residents who have approved tanks and working septic fields, is there a method to pay the contributions and hook up 20-25 years later?
  • Are there going to be caps regarding landscaping, replacing tennis courts and swimming pools? Can all residents expect their properties to be put back as they are now with the resident contributions?

Maintenance & Roll Out

Q1: Can the Municipality install water and sewer up to the property line of each lot and let property owners install the septic tank and water cistern and other infrastructures on their own? 
A1: The Municipality is considering this option. To ensure quality control, permitting, and inspection requirements are followed, the property owner would have to be a certified installer or hire a certified installer. 

Q2: What if I do not want this system upgrade? 
A2: To realize the full economic and environmental benefits of the Rural Water and Sewer Servicing program, all residences must eventually connect to the system. It is hoped that residents will be encouraged to connect by the benefits that the system provides, as well as the cost savings that it enables. 

Q3: In Draper, will ATCO Gas provide service? 
A3: To best do the construction work, the Municipality is sharing its design with ATCO Gas. While we do have a positive and collaborative working relationship with ATCO Gas, it is ultimately that company’s decision on how they service the Draper community. Homeowners are encouraged to contact ATCO Gas directly. 

Q4: My house is set back from the road and as such the water and sewer pipes to my house will be in a common driveway. How will I maintain this pipe in-case of freezing or other failures? 
A4: The Municipality is aware of this situation and has accordingly obtained easements wherever required. This will allow the Municipality to create separate service connections for each lot. 

Q5: I live 3rd in a row of homes. If my (upstream) neighbour does not maintain his/her service, how will I get water? 
A5: The Municipality has obtained easements for such lots with multiple dwellings. This has allowed the design of separate connections for each lot. The Municipality will maintain the pipes within this easement. Thus, the homeowner will only need to maintain the pipes on their lot. 

Q6: There are houses in Draper which are in the flood plain. Where would the new water and sewer system be installed? 
A6: The new system will only work if it is retrofitted to the existing house layout and sanitary and water system. If the existing homes are built below the flood plain the new system will also be installed below the flood plain. 

Q7: How will you prevent sewage backflow in my basement when I hook up? 
A7: To prevent this from happening, we will require that backwater valves are installed as part of homeowners plumbing system. 

Q8: What if the pipe breaks? 
A8: We will repair the RWSS systems up to the property line, the homeowner will be responsible for repairs of the system on their private lots. This is standard practice within the region and in other municipalities where similar systems exist. 

Q9: Regarding lots with easements: 
    Q9A: Do I get my own pipe? 
    A9A: Yes, every lot will get its own pipe. 

    Q9B: Where are the easements? 
    A9B: The easements are for the lots that have a common access road to their properties (pan handle lots). Impacted homeowners have been or will be contacted directly by the Municipality. 

Q10: Will there be hydrants in Draper and Janvier? 
A10: Conklin, Anzac, GLE and Saprae will have hydrants installed. Draper’s and Janvier’s water system will be a trickle fill water system which uses smaller diameter pipe than a full pressure water system. Hydrants will not be installed in these communities as the smaller diameter pipes cannot provide the necessary flow or 
pressure required. 

Q11: If there are any issues with lift stations and/or pump houses, how will this affect homeowners? 
A11: Lift stations and pump houses are designed with several safe guards in place to mitigate risk to homeowners. 

Q23: After my connection is completed, will my sewer service be affected by power failure? 
A12: In the event of a power failure, residents with pumped sewer connections will be alerted with an alarm. 

Q13: How will connections to future developments and/or subdivisions be dealt with? 
A13: On September 23, 2014, Council stated that any new subdivisions and developments will be required to connect to the water and sewer systems and that the cost of these private connections, and development services fee, will be the full responsibility of the property owner or developer as the case may be. 

Q14: With low pressure sewers how is the solid waste handled? Will there be a scheduled pump out to deal with solids?   
A14: Solid waste will remain in the first chamber of the Septic Tank and will need to be sucked out periodically. The Municipality will review the need for scheduled pump outs and communicate this as a part of the on-site service connection plan.

Q15:Why are we being forced to be a part of this program?  
A15: Residents have the option to connect to the RWSS system. 

Q16: Will I need to put a pump in my tank? 
A16: Pumps are dependent on the type of system being installed in your community. If your home is connecting to a low-pressure sewer, your tank will require a pump in the tank.

Q17: What is the isolation between the property line? Can there be valves(cc) to switch on and off the RMWB system for residents? 
A17: All water service connections have a buried isolation valve near the property line. Only Municipal staff will have access to these valves. 

Q18: Why did we deviate from the original plan (presented in 2014) to Saprae Creek Estates? 
A18: The system presented at the first open house was found to have a short lifecycle and would have been more expensive for residents. The new design will be more cost effective and reliable.

Q19: Do we need to upgrade our electrical for the supply of the pumps? 
A19: There will be cases in which residents will need to upgrade their electrical panels to connect to the RWSS system. The lot by lot assessment will review electrical panel capacity if a Septic Tank Effluent Pump is required.

Q20: Will there be a contractual agreement to prevent people from mistreating their systems?  
A20: There will be no specific RWSS contractual agreement, however information on the Utility Rates Bylaw can be found here.

Q21: For STEP system, what is the cost to maintain these pumps?  
A21: Life expectancy of the Septic Tank Effluent Pump (STEP) is approximately 10 years.  Pumps, check valves and floats should be inspected regularly per manufacturer recommendation.  Cost will be dependent on type of pump used and if your certified contractor completes an inspection.

Q22: Why can’t Saprae Creek get the urban system? What is the cost difference between urban & rural sewer systems in Saprae Creek Estates?
A22: To upgrade Saprae Creek Estates to the gravity system it would cost an additional $9.1 million dollars. 

Q23: Other systems in Alberta that are similar, where are they located? 
A23: The STEP system is used in Strathcona County, Leduc County, Rocky View County, Summer Villages, Red Deer County, Sturgeon County, Lac La Biche County, Pigeon Lake and Parkland County.

Q24: For empty/undeveloped lots: 

    Q24A: If I pay the service connection fee now, will it cover the same work in the future or with sale of the property?
    Q24B: If I hold onto the lots, can I pay the same connection fee and get the system to connect in 10 years?

A24: The time in which you can use the RWSS program to connect to the system as well as the time in which you can pay your service connection fee and get work done by a certified contractor will be determined in the service connection plan.

Q25: Is directional drilling an option for connections? Could this save cost? What about properties with irrigation systems?
A25: The lot by lot assessment will determine the best installation of pipes to homes. Directional drilling may be the best option for some homeowners.

Q26: Has the survey for septic tank locations occurred?
A26: No, the survey has not been completed. However, Administration will be undertaking a lot by lot assessment to gather this information.


Q1: How do we exit the community quickly in the case of emergencies? 
A1: There is an emergency exit plan made for each project prior to the construction season. Additionally, day to day plans are made and shared with Regional Emergency Services (RES) and the construction team. Flaggers and detour signage are in place to guide residents safely out of construction zones.

If you have any concerns during construction, please contact the RMWB Pulse Line at 1-800-973-9663 or www.rmwb.ca/pulse.

Q2: What will be the way out when they start work on Christina Lake Drive? 
A2: The Municipality is investigating different options how Christina Lake Drive will be constructed. The RMWB will communicate the traffic plan with the residents before starting construction.

Q3: How can residents park safely when their driveways are being blocked? 
A3: During trenching and the main pipe installation, the Contractor is to provide a safe and secure location for temporary parking which may include a temporary driveway.

During the lot by lot engagements the impact of construction on your property and driveway will also be communicated.

Q4: How do ambulances access residents with road closures? 
A4: During construction, project maps and construction schedules are shared with the Regional Emergency Services (RES). RES identifies the best route option for residents with road closures.   

Draper Design Update

The Draper community is still in the design phase. Based on the proposed plan crews will begin work in the 2019 Construction Season and the RWSS will be available to residents for hook up in May of 2021. The scope of Draper’s design includes a trickle fill water system, low pressure sewer system and the 
paving of Draper Road. 

Q1: What is the capacity of the system? What about future lots and developments? How they will connect? 
A1: The proposed design has consideration for future development and has the capacity for expansion. In fall of 2014, Council stated that any new subdivisions and developments will be required to connect to the water and sewer systems and that the cost of these private connections, and a development services fee, will be the full responsibility of the property owner or developer. 

Q2: If Draper Road is paved first, can water and sewer be done later? Can the road get upgraded before we start with more heavy traffic which will be required to facilitate the water/sewer activities? Example: two small stretches received upgrading then stopped recently. 
A2: It is possible to pave a portion of Draper Road first. Only a couple of kilometers of the road can be built independent of the water and sewer line. Starting in Waterways this section would be at the 400-metre mark, west of the ‘S’ bend. However east of the ‘S’ bend, the water and sewer lines need to be installed at the same time as road construction. 

Q3: What would be the realistic timeline to complete the project, given that the Municipality had issues sourcing construction material (clay) in the past? 
A3: Before tendering the project, we will consult with contractors and prospective suppliers of any required materials and work out a realistic schedule. 

Still have a Question?
To allow our Engineering team to reply to your question, please submit your questions to Pulse by calling 780-743-7000 or visiting rmwb.ca/pulse. 

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