Discussions are open between Wheatland County and the Wheatland Regional Corporation (WRC) about an idea to expand water servicing into Redland.
Wheatland County Reeve Amber Link said nothing is set in stone yet and the county is still exploring its options around the project.
“It really is still in the preliminary stages, and it sounds like it will likely be a project under the Wheatland Regional Corporation,” she noted.
WRC is currently a partnership between Wheatland County and the villages of Rockyford, Standard and Hussar. The partnership primarily provides services to Gleichen, Rockyford and Standard.
The county has previously done surveying in Redland to gauge interest from residents. At that time, particularly when cost recovery was a consideration for the idea, there was not a high level of interest.
“Because of the low population density, I’m not sure it would have a huge impact. We haven’t identified Redland as an area of growth, but of course, anytime you can increase the quality of a service to a resident, that can have an impact for those ratepayers,” said Link.
In 2020, the partnership completed Phase 3 of the regional water system, which saw an existing transmission line extended through Redland into Rosebud.
“They recently have been developing water to Rosebud as well … and that’s what spurred this conversation around Redland,” explained Link. “At this point it’s still very much in the exploration stage and … it would likely be Wheatland Regional Corporation that would be offering that service to Redland.”
During Phase 3, a high level estimate was done assuming rural type connections for the residents in Redland with some residents connected directly to the transmission line, and others connected to a small distribution line.
County administration recommended two options for how to proceed with the extension, should council choose to do so.
The first would see WRC working with residents as customers, and have the organization design, process and make the line connections. This would require the WRC or property owners to apply to use county right of ways to access service lines. As part of the process, the county would review the line to confirm locations in the right of ways and have all required agreements signed off. WRC would own, operate and maintain the system, all liabilities would fall to them, and all utility rates, billings and procedures would be the responsibility of the WRC.
The second option would see Wheatland County design and install the distribution system that would connect to the WRC line. The extension would then be owned, maintained and operated by the county; all liabilities accompanying it.
Based on water testing results downstream of the current lines, there are no concerns with the viability regarding water quality from the transmission line in Redland.
The county accepted the report suggesting the two options for information on June 1 during the regular council meeting and opted to wait until a cost projection of the proposed expansion is provided by the WRC before continuing.
John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times