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Meters here "as soon as possible"

Tribune-Express, vendredi 4 avril 2008

Meters here "as soon as possible"

Water meters will be installed in all homes and businesses in Hawkesbury "as soon as possible" now that the Ontario government has agreed to foot the bill for the installation of the devices, says Mayor Jeanne Charlebois.

"It was a beautiful surprise," Charlebois said of the announcement last week that the province had approved the $1.8 million the town had sought in February to cover the cost of installing meters in at all properties in the municipality.

The introduction of meters is expected to increase the capacity of the town's sewage treatment plant by ten to 15 per cent. "This will give us some breathing room," says Charlebois.

The municipality will now call tenders on the installation of the water consumption counters. The $1.8 million price tag had been based on the installation of meters that would cost $450 each.Meters were rejected by taxpayers in a 1997 plebiscite. But Glengarry-Prescott-Russell M.P.P. Jean-Marc Lalonde and Charlebois have maintained that meters are inevitable if the town is to reduce water consumption and in turn extend the life of its inadequate sewage treatment system.

Hawkesbury residents now pay a flat rate of $219 per year. Based on figures in Champlain Township, where Vankleek Hill and L'Orignal have meters, a household could expect to pay about $500 a year for water.

The town has been taken to court by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment because the Main Street sewage treatment facility does not meet provincial standards. The cost of expanding the plant would be $26 million while a brand new plant could cost as much as $42 million. If the town gets two-thirds funding from the provincial and federal governments, the municipality would still be faced with a bill lion, with the local share being anywhere from $9 million to $14 million.

Preliminary studies and plans for the expansion or replacement of the plant can be consulted at an information session April 10 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the town hall. A formal presentation will take place at 6:30 p.m.

$158,799 for streets

The government has also approved $158,799 for street work. Some of this money will be spent to resurface Richer Street. "For the balance, council will decide," says Charlebois.

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