ARICHAT: Richmond County’s elected councillors have given municipal staff the green light to continue working with the Town of Port Hawkesbury to acquire provincial infrastructure connected to a reservoir in the county’s west end that provides water to the town and several residential and industrial customers in Point Tupper.

Maris Freimanis

The vote at last week’s regular monthly council meeting followed an update from interim Richmond Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Maris Freimanis regarding the pumping station facility at Landrie Lake.

Currently run by the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal (DTIR), the reservoir – whose two largest customers are the town and the Port Hawkesbury Paper (PHP) mill in Point Tupper – is now the focus of a proposed joint utility to be comprised of officials from Richmond and Port Hawkesbury.

According to Freimanis, while the transfer of ownership is not yet complete, the two municipal units and the DTIR have moved closer to establishing the series of events involved in bringing the Landrie Lake facility into local hands.

“[DTIR] will transfer the ownership, the pumping station, the dams and the related infrastructure… to the municipal units,” the interim CAO explained.

“DTIR will complete the construction that’s currently underway for removing the regulating tank, conversion to smaller pumps, replacement of the diesel tank and some other, smaller associated work. [DTIR} will reimburse the cost of water currently provided to the paper mill as per the Stora Act, a letter of agreement dating back to 1972.”

In order for these upgrades to be carried out and the joint management utility to take shape, the province and the two municipalities in question would also need to complete a review of recently-submitted assessment reports and finalize the legal paperwork required for the official asset transfer and joint management of the facility, paving the way for a formal application to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board (UARB), Freimanis added.

Through it all, officials with Richmond and Port Hawkesbury are optimistic about a collaborative approach towards the Landrie Lake operation, which currently pumps out a monthly average of 36 million to 64 million gallons of water, according to the interim CAO.

“In the last year, we looked at this utility and we realized that a joint approach was more appropriate than two units fighting over one resource, and we came together as the administration of both units and worked with the province on questions that we needed to be answered,” Freimanis told the council session.

“Those questions are now answered, and so it’s up to us to move forward with continued discussions.”

Freimanis’ update drew praise from Richmond Warden Brian Marchand.

“Speaking to our staff, this will be a great benefit to the Richmond Water Utility as well as the Port Hawkesbury water utility,” Marchand predicted.

Other customers for the Landrie Lake reservoir, originally constructed four decades ago, include NuStar Canada, Sable Offshore Energy (SOE), Tupper Industrial Developments and Nova Scotia Power Incorporated (NSPI).