Ever take these three things for granted?
Clean water - comes out the tap
Whatever goes down the drain - disappears
Recycling and garbage - is just taken care of
Aquatera Utilities does not take these things for granted, and is focussed strongly on ensuring our customers receive high-quality and affordable water, wastewater and solid waste services. Aquatera provides benefits to business, regional growth, shareholders, and customers.
Aquatera is both a young company and a strong one. It has many benefits; however, it has faced and will face many more challenges as it grows to be a model in regional cooperation and growth.
Why are we Aquatera?
Aquatera Utilities Inc. was formed to ensure the region it serves would prosper. By regionalizing control, the region has greater potential to grow, and all stakeholders would see a benefit. The forming of Aquatera also pushed off any debt from the books of shareholders as well as liability in a post-Walkerton world.
Aquatera has resulted in many benefits in the company’s short life. Phenomenal growth struck the region, and Aquatera was structured to accommodate this economic boom. This kept growth within the Aquatera service area versus other regions in the North Peace Region, seeing industrial areas grow, and residential subdivisions to quickly develop.
Through franchise agreements, guaranteed dividends, and administration charges, over $45 million has been returned to shareholders since 2003. This has resulted in lower taxes for residents and businesses, which has promoted further growth.
As a young company which is unique, and was the first of its kind, it has taken many years of hard work to ensure the model is sustainable. This will continue for several more years. However, we know the model does work as it has been copied in other regions of Alberta, our region has grown greatly, and our shareholders have seen significant financial return.
It is with this strong team, from our board of directors to our staff that Aquatera has a strong future in servicing our region.
Aquatera provides services through franchise agreements with shareholders. We provide the options for each service, and shareholders select the best option for their community.
What drives development?
Pipes not pavement. It’s often thought that roads lead to the future, but it is actually pipes in the ground. Without access to reliable utilities, regional growth is not possible. Water, wastewater, and solid waste services are not just vital, they are required. It is because of this that Aquatera’s model supports regionalization of services in, around and beyond Grande Prairie.
Aquatera has great potential for expansion as water becomes a more valuable resource. Our water treatment plant has unused capacity, and will be able to handle even more when an upgrade is completed in the coming decade.
Our wastewater plant will also have increased capacity when provincial regulations are met with a $45 million plant upgrade.
The combined knowledge of our staff in water and wastewater areas is strong, and has been utilized by several utilities to maintain services to their customers.
Aquatera’s proposal for curbside recycling was accepted by the City of Grande Prairie in October 2010, with the service to roll out in September 2011. This will compliment the introduction of garbage carts to all single family dwellings in the summer of 2010, which was very positively welcomed by our customers.
Our Eco Centre recently completed a number of upgrades to allow for future expansion of recycling programs at the facility - including the addition of Styrofoam recycling in August 2011 - the first municipality in Canada to have offer Styrofoam condensing. As well, our landfill continues to see success with diversion efforts, which has resulted in the life of the landfill being extended to as much as 50 years.
- 2003 - In January a Letter of Intent was signed among shareholders to form Aquatera. Aquatera began operating with the transfer of assets and employees on May 1.
- 2004 - A unanimous shareholders agreement, bylaws, articles of association, and franchise agreements were signed by shareholders in June to officially create Aquatera.
- 2005 - Aquatera assumes the assets of the Clairmont and Sexsmith water and wastewater systems. As well, the regional water transmission line to Clairmont was operational with the line to Sexsmith completed in the spring of 2006, linking the region with high quality water – an engine for regional growth.
- 2010 - A new unanimous shareholders agreement, bylaws and articles of association were amended by shareholders in August. Major changes included changes to the board structure and providing guaranteed cash dividends with board discretion on increases. The changes improve governance and long term sustainability while reducing pressure for increases to rates.
- 2011 - Effective at the June 2011 Annual Meeting: A nine member board comprised of business, financial and legal professionals will be unanimously appointed by Shareholders.
- 73% City of Grande Prairie (majority)
- 18% County of Grande Prairie No. 1
- 9% Town of Sexsmith
- Over $31 million has been returned to shareholders in the form of dividends and franchise fees since 2003
- About 100 staff work for Aquatera on permanent basis.
- 925 kilometres of pipe are in the ground providing Aquatera services
- Average waste deposited in our landfill equals 1,000 kilograms for every person in Grande Prairie
- 140 kilograms per capita of recycling was diverted from landfill in 2009 through Aquatera programs, which is higher than the Alberta average. This was prior to the introduction of blue bag recycling, which has increased recycling volumes by 20%
- 20.7 million litres of water is treated at our water treatment plant every day, on average
- 81% of the water we take from the Wapiti River is returned as treated wastewater
- 20,000 individual residential and commercial customers use Aquatera’s services, on average
- About 85% of the people south of the Peace River receive Aquatera water
- Revenue sources include water (tap & bulk), wastewater (sewage, septic & sump), solid waste (curbside garbage, recycling, and landfill), infrastructure charges
- $70.5 million is the value Aquatera’s assets
- The City chose to commit its guaranteed annual dividend to pay the debt for the new Eastlink Centre Multiplex in 2012
- $57 million is the required amount for a provincially-regulated upgrade required by 2016 to our wastewater treatment plant, which will also provide necessary capacity to accommodate long term regional growth