LETTER: To Balfour from a former resident: Take your lottery winnings

From reader Sidney Bowles…

To the resident owners of the Balfour water system:

It was with very much dismay that I heard of the informal refusal of the grants and upgrades to your water system. I now see that a formal referendum is planned for June 17, with advance voting set for June 7.

I was a councillor and later mayor of Pilot Butte, Saskatchewan, from 2006 to 2012. During that time, the town brought in our first water treatment plant and distribution system (we had formerly all used private, un-monitored water wells). The total cost of our project exceeded $27 million, for our population of less than 2000 people, residing in approximately 600 homes.

We obtained federal and provincial funding of $12.6 million, plus interest on our interim loan during construction was funded by the province. As a homeowner, I personally paid some $14,000 to have metered water brought into my home, and began paying, for the first time, a water fee based on usage. I fully supported this project, since it assured me that my water would be available, and safe.

Several years ago, I attended a water meeting at the Balfour Hall, where I voiced my support for upgrades to the Balfour water system, and in particular I supported mandatory metering, which would do two things: 1.) It would allow monitoring for leaky pipes, some of which, unless they have been replaced since, were placed in the mid to late 1960s (during my teen years as a Balfour resident); and 2.) It would ensure fair assessment based on usage. If your neighbours have a leaky faucet, why should you pay for their excess water use? At this meeting several years back, it was suggested that a cost of more than $6 million was needed to bring the system up to speed. Your current project is expected to cost much less.

Having been through a similar project, at a much greater cost than you are expecting, I encourage you to move forward with your $3.4 million project, and take the gift of $2.8 million which is being offered. As one of your residents indicated in a letter to the Star, if you win the lottery, don’t forget to claim the prize! This small step will move your small community into the future with a safe and secure water supply. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth – take your lottery winnings.

Sidney Bowles

Silton, Saskatchewan