A resident has campaigned for City of Powell River to provide him more water pressure but the city will decline doing so.
At the April 29 city council meeting, councillors reviewed correspondence from Dan Vincent, who stated it was determined that the pressure going into his house is lower than what the city is obligated to provide. Vincent stated he observed 35 to 36 pounds per square inch (PSI) at a non-peak time and further stated that the city is obligated to provide 43.5 psi at peak times.
Chief administrative officer Russell Brewer outlined information received from city director of infrastructure Tor Birtig regarding Vincent’s request. Brewer said the BC plumbing code does not set out a minimum water pressure for households. Powell River’s waterworks regulations state that the city is not liable for excessive or lack of water pressure.
The city is responsible for delivery of safe drinking water and adequate fire protection. Both of these are achieved at Vincent’s site, said Brewer. He added that a number of areas in the city have pressure issues, below 43.5 psi.
“The number of dwellings in this situation is expected to well exceed 40 residences,” said Brewer. “As well, covenants have been placed on properties in recent subdivisions, indicating that pressures delivered to properties would be below 43.5 psi and the homeowner would be responsible to install and maintain the pressure for those homes.”
Councillor Jim Palm, when he saw Vincent’s correspondence, reached out and assured him that he would take the matter up with the city’s engineering department and get the email placed on the agenda of a meeting. Palm said he talked to Birtig and manager of engineering services Nagi Rizk to discuss the situation.
“I found out in no uncertain terms that new homes are going in where pressure is low,” said Palm. “Residents have been notified that it is their responsibility to put a pump in and make sure they have adequate pressure. They are fully informed of that.”
Palm said water pressure at his home is below 43.5 psi and there are a number of similar homes throughout the city.
“When I found out the growing number we would be confronted with, even though I was sympathetic when I first heard Mr. Vincent’s message, the volume we would have to put forward to rectify this situation doesn’t add up financially well for the city. As it was explained to me, it’s up to the resident to purchase that pump if they want greater pressure.”
Councillor Cindy Elliott said the matter was presented as the city somehow was promising to deliver a certain amount of water pressure and she was hearing that was not the case. She said she was wondering if this was a common misunderstanding and if the city should be informing people so they are less inclined to believe that.
Brewer said the point was that 43.5 is the ideal minimum in new buildings but there are many homes older than when the master municipal construction documents standard was introduced in 1989, providing a framework and foundation for municipal infrastructure projects.
Councillor George Doubt proposed a motion that Brewer write a letter to Vincent outlining the situation. Council gave unanimous consent to do so.
Doubt said when he bought his house he had a home inspection completed and one of the things identified was the water pressure. In his case, it was something like 100 psi and the recommendation was to put a pressure reducing valve.
“The point is when you buy a home and have a home inspection, most home inspectors would test the water pressure and let you know what it is,” said Doubt. “You can make a determination if it is too high or too low.”
Vincent, in his correspondence, said the simplest means to rectify his problem was to install a pump in his house to boost pressure. Pumps range in price from a $100 Amazon option to the $1,100 top option received from a local plumbing outlet.
“It’s all about efficiency and not wasting taxpayer dollars,” stated Vincent. “If you provide me with a reasonable budget, I will be happy to do the legwork and install.”
Vincent called it a reasonable compromise.