Kneehill Regional Water Services Commission under fire from auditor | DrumhellerMail
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Last updateFri, 19 Apr 2024 5pm

Kneehill Regional Water Services Commission under fire from auditor

    A provincial auditor summed up the grim financial realities for residents and government officials tied to the Kneehill Regional Water Services Commission (KRWSC).     A public meeting was held in Acme on Monday, August 30 for the auditor to present his report on the state of the commission. It was no surprise to the attendees the commission has racked up a deficit, and has accumulated operational deficits since it began operation.
    The simple explanation for the trouble with the water system according to former chair Annon Hovde was that they were not using enough water.
    “We knew we had a deficit and we were not selling enough water to look after it,” said Hovde.
    The KRWSC was created to supply drinking water to the member municipalities including Kneehill County, the MD of Rocky View and many of the towns and villages within the area.  In the report on the state of the commission, the author suggests the troubles could have come from the membership of Kneehill County and MD of Rocky View not using the water they were allocated.        “If it concluded the Municipal District of Rocky View and Kneehill County’s decision not to annually contribute in net water volume based on their 55% water allocation share nor to be responsible for their 55% share of the debenture debt is not appropriate and lead exclusively to the direct financial deficits of the Commission, then these rural municipalities and them alone should be held responsible for the financial demise of the Commission. If such is the case and these municipalities refuse to accept this responsibility in the formulation of the corrective financial planning and decisions, then the minister, within his power should consider dissolving the commission back to an “Authority” thereby making each municipal participant responsible for their respective share of the Tangible Capital Assets and related indebtedness of the former commission.”
    In fact, the author said, had the Kneehill County and the MD of Rocky View not been members, and the system was to be based on the usage of the member villages, it would have not been approved by the government.
    “I’m not surprised by the author’s report, It was all pretty much factual, but it was brutal. He didn’t take into consideration the work we had done to try to alleviate the problem,” said Hovde. “I think that was the part that bothered me the worst, is the facts were there, and there was nothing on our side.”
    He says public opinion at the meeting was very much on side with the water commission.
    He explains there was one opportunity for the commission to use more of its allocation which would have helped the financial situation for the commission, and that was when it proposed to supply water to a development in Balzac. The Town of Drumheller did not agree with the project and it was subsequently terminated.
    “We were hosed out of that Balzac deal by Drumheller and the provincial government didn’t help any,” said Hovde.
    “They (the government) could have told Drumheller ‘hey they have their water allocation, give it to them, and let them sell water where they want,” said Hovde.
    He adds at other instances untimely cabinet shuffles hindered the process of getting the books under control.
    “We went to the government a number of times, and thought we had solutions…but then they would shuffle their cabinet around, and then the new minister would come in and didn’t have a clue what was going on. To try to educate those guys is unbelievable,” said Hovde.
    According to documents posted online, the KRWSC estimated in January the accumulated deficit since the incorporation of the Commission was approximately $1.2 million. The 2010 operational deficit was estimated to be about $126,890.
    Hovde says they are still working on a solution.
    “We have to present the government with a plan as to how we are going to get ourselves out of this situation. We are working on some scenarios,” said Hovde. “It will involve getting together with the government.”
    He says the project is not in jeopardy.
    “We are still going to keep pumping water,” he said.

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