Bulletin September 10, 2022

~ B U L L E T I N ~

Ongoing efforts to resolve a complaint.

 September 10, 2022

To residents of Savary Shores Improvement District, and the Savary community;

This Bulletin is intended to provide clarity to a complaint that has entered public discussion.

The volunteer trustees of SSID are entrusted to maintain operations of the waterworks for the benefit of 176 tax payers. All efforts and resources are directed to this objective. Within this context, the trustees have been working to address an individual household’s complaint.

The complaint concerns sleep disruption caused by the sound of either of SSID’s two generators during nighttime operation. Generator-1 is in an enclosed structure since 1992, and Generator-2 is in a chain-link enclosure since 2018.

SSID received the first email about Generator-2 on May 27, 2019. SSID’s Operator responded by switching the pump power to Generator-1. Generator-2 was used minimally thereafter that year, to keep it in working order. During all of 2019, Generator-2 ran 98 hours, and Generator-1 ran 756 hours. We received no complaint about Generator-1.

The trustees discussed options for noise abatement in meetings that were held in camera, as is done for matters considered private or sensitive. It was decided that in the new year 2020, with a new budget, SSID should purchase a Thomson control panel with a timer so that the two generators could be operated in rotation, with Generator-2 scheduled for daytime use only, to avoid nighttime disturbance.

The Thomson panel was installed in February 2020, and although Thomson is an industry leader in generator switching, the panel was problematic in this off-grid environment. Various attempts and notable expense with additional components and electricians did not fully resolve the issues at the time.

As we continued to work on electrical solutions, in June 2020, the 23-year-old Generator-1 failed, so Generator-2 became SSID’s sole source for powering the pumps, including during the night if the water tanks were filling. After unsuccessful attempts to fix Generator-1, and a prolonged search for a suitably sized Tier 4 model—the environmental standard for emissions—the new Generator-1 was installed for operational rotation with Generator-2 on November 24, 2020.

On November 28, new electrical issues were causing both generators to cycle on and off in 15-minute intervals. The issue was recurrent until late December. During this period, SSID maintenance staff made runs to turn off automation, and manually operate the generators to pump water during the day to reduce nighttime operation, until such time that the electrician could be back on site.

SSID received no complaints of nighttime disturbance for all of 2021. Generator-1 ran for 983 hours and Generator-2 ran 104 hours.

On July 5, 2022, SSID received a complaint that Generator-1 was now waking them. It was unusual for Generator-1 to be considered noisy, so we inspected it on July 6 and 8, and found no changes that would cause additional noise. This included inspection of the muffler/exhaust output on the building’s exterior.

With no change to the sound from Generator-1, it is not yet understood why Generator-1 would now be a noise concern 5 years after the neighbouring property was purchased. SSID is considering that the waking sound might actually have been caused by a different generator, one offsite, as it can be difficult in the night to know exactly from where sounds are coming. This would explain why a 3:30AM wakeup on August 29 did not correspond with the time recorded in the Generator-1 automated Event Log.

We are, however proceeding on the complaint of Generator-1 waking the neighbours. This is a more difficult problem than Generator-2, as Generator-1 is programmed to power the pumps at night. As an Improvement District government, we are obligated to deliver the water service in exchange for water taxes collected. There are no nighttime restrictions on water use, nor can there be without changes to the Water Use bylaw, and an effective method of enforcement. The trustees are disinclined to impose such restrictions, as they are unlikely to be supported by this community for the sole purpose of reducing nighttime operations. Nor can we turn off generator power to the pumps for any duration, as water must be readily available for fire suppression at all times.

The trustees are now considering options for reducing the need for SSID water tanks to fill in the night. We have engaged an electronics consultant who has offered ideas that range in price and complexity. All expenditures of this district are borne by the 176 taxpayers, so careful evaluation is required prior to any decision, and at this time there is no guarantee of any option being viable.

Difficulties of addressing the generator complaint were outlined to residents attending SSID’s 2022 Annual General Meeting on July 31. We will continue to consider solutions while tending to the ongoing requirements of this water system.

The Trustees