Town of Sylvan Lake is fast-tracking plans to build a much-needed water reservoir east of town.
The 8,500-cubic-metre water reservoir able to supply water to up to 30,000 people was to be built in two phases in 2018 and 2022, however council opted to tackle the whole project this year to take advantage of competitive construction pricing.
Council originally budgeted $6.5 million this year and $4.5 million to build the reservoir.
Instead, council voted to borrow up to $10 million to do all the work in one go. First reading of the borrowing bylaw was approved on Monday.
A report to council says it is a good time to take on major construction projects.
“Construction this year would be beneficial due to the fact that interest rates are lower and with the expected improvement in the economy, the general construction costs and interest rates will likely start to rise over the next year or two,” says the report.
Ensuring future water supply is a big priority because the fast-growing community’s current system can only meet the needs of 18,000 people. The 2016 federal census put the town’s population at 14,816.
During peak demand in the summer the town is already having trouble keeping enough water in its reservoir to meet needs.
Town communications officer Joanne Gaudet said the town has been preparing for years to ensure enough water will be ready to meet future growth, including drilling a new well. A mandatory water conservation program from May to September has been in place for many years.
“Certainly, we have adequate potable water available for our residents at this point,” said Gaudet. “We’re good until 18,000 but that doesn’t always consider a major development or something like that.”
The town hopes provincial funding will cover 30 per cent — $3 million — of the cost.
About half of the remaining $7 million would be covered through levies paid by developers as they build. The other half would be paid by taxpayers through increased utility rates. Residents would see their utility costs increase $3 to $6 per month depending on whether $7 million or $10 million needs to be borrowed.
Tenders are expected to go out this spring with construction underway in May. The reservoir will take about 18 months to complete.
Red Deer County has already agreed to sell the town the land needed for the reservoir, which will be located just northeast of Hwy 20 and Hwy 11A.