St. Marys Journal Argus
The General Manager and the Director of Operations of the St. Marys Golf and Country Club appeared before the Committee of the Whole meeting of St. Marys Town Council on Tuesday, Jan. 13, hoping to bring about the conclusion of a request for compensation for water damage they say came from a broken Town watermain.
Director of Operations and co-owner Matt Staffen cited damages of $8,801 from flooding that began in November of 2013. General Manager Rick Fifield explained that a well-respected drainage contractor was called in by the golf club at that time, and he offered the opinion that the flooding was probably originating from a watermain on the opposite side of Queen Street.
In March of 2015, Fifield continued, the golf club got the evidence it needed to confirm that was true.
According to Fifield, after some initial investigation by the drainage contractor and the golf club, the Town was notified in early December, 2013, about their concern. And it wasn't until "late January" 2014 that representatives from the Ontario Clean Water Agency (OCWA), which operates the Town's water supply system, visited the site.
That's when the golf course was first told the flooding was not originating from the watermain.
"The damage was so bad that we were worried about our business in the spring," Staffen told councillors. So they went ahead and had the work done by the drainage contractor to ease the problems.
"Luckily, we didn't suffer any revenue damages because we were able to get the work done in our off-season."
In March, 2014, the Perth District Health Unit issued a “Precautionary Boil Water Advisory” for properties along Queen Street East, following the detection of a leak in one of the Town’s eight-inch watermains. Repairs were completed and the Advisory lifted within a couple of days.
A message provided to the Journal Argus at that time from a source close to situation, who asked not to be named, raised the possibility that water could have been leaking onto Golf and Country Club lands from November through March, and cited the potential for 216 million gallons of Town water being discharged over that time.
In a letter sent to Town Council requesting this week’s meeting, Fifield informs councillors that “after the (March, 2014 watermain) repair the water issue on our site cleared up.” The letter was made public as part of the information package for this week’s Committee of the Whole meeting.
At the meeting, Fifield said the drainage contractor hired by the golf club estimated that 125 gallons was flowing onto the property from the watermain per minute — a figure that was also cited to the Journal Argus in the message last March from the confidential source. But a representative from OCWA, who was present at the meeting for another matter but agreed to speak to the golf course situation, disputed that estimate.
"It wasn't even close to that," said Marcel Misuraca. "There's no way that was happening . . . It was just a crack in the pipe, and it was just a small percentage of the water that was shooting out."
Town Councillor Jim Craigmile, an avid golfer who was not a councillor at the time of the initial water damage, said he was on the course in November of 2013.
"I specifically wrote about it during the (October, 2014 municipal election) campaign, how it was a travesty of not recognizing there was a real issue and dealing with it," Craigmile said. "When I looked at the water on the course, it took me two minutes to determine. It was very obvious to me where it was coming from."
Town of St. Marys CEO Kevin McLlwain told councillors that an insurance adjuster is currently gathering the necessary information to determine the level of fault that can be placed on the town, if any. He was urged by Mayor Al Strathdee to hasten that process as much as possible.