June 21, 2018

Erin water services outsourced

Erin’s drinking water systems are under new management.
The town signed an interim agreement on June 11 with the Ontario Clean Water Agency, a crown corporation that will now deal with all aspects of local drinking water quality, delivery and infrastructure maintenance.
“As we transition with OCWA, we would like to express to residents that there will be no delay or interruptions in regular water services,” said Communications Officer Jessica Spina.
The systems in Hillsburgh and Erin village will continue to be owned by the municipality, with town council responsible for oversight.
Members of the water department staff who expressed an interest in continuing to work on the local systems as employees of OCWA have been offered positions, while others chose not to join the Ontario Public Service.
“We would like to thank the Water Department for the work and commitment to service they provided to the town and wish the individuals the best in their future endeavours,” said Spina.
On April 24, council voted to enter negotiations with OCWA, based on a bid that promised savings of more than $200,000 in a five-year deal. This will allow more money to be saved for water infrastructure improvements and offset the need for water rate increases.
 “There is tremendous savings in this, and we will be looking to them for advice on wastewater,” said Mayor Al Alls. “They were extremely pleased with the system, that it was well-run.”
Sections of the local systems are antiquated, prone to freeze-ups and leakage, and have been in need of replacement for some time. The town is searching for new well sites to meet provincial requirements for redundancy, and to support new residential and business growth.
OCWA operates water and wastewater systems for more than 180 clients. They will now share liability with the town for any problems with the water systems.
The agreement was signed by the CAO and mayor. The final contract had not been signed last week, presented to council or made available to the public. Alls expects that to happen soon.
Customers can continue to call 519-830-8600 for any after-hours drinking water emergencies. For water billing and water meter support during regular hours of operation, call Town Hall at 519-855-4407 ext. 221.