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'Quite hard on our business': Car wash owners want compensation from Epcor after water ban


Owners of businesses forced to shut down by Epcor last month are looking for financial compensation.

A mandatory ban on non-essential water use was put in place due to an equipment failure at the E.L. Smith Water Treatment Plant — a ban that lasted for five days.

Epcor asked car washes and laundromats in the Edmonton area to stop using water on Jan. 29. The ban was lifted Feb. 2.

For hundreds of businesses, that meant no income for a week.

"Not only was there lost revenue but staff wages, source deductions, lease or mortgage payments, as well as many other costs that are incurred while operating a business," said Terrina van Woerkom, a cash war owner.

Another car wash owner says Epcor told him it would turn his water off if he didn't shut it down.

Michael Sieb says his insurance refuses to compensate him now, and he's looking to Epcor and the City of Edmonton for answers.

"The City of Edmonton charges us $36,000 a year whether or not we make any profit," the car wash owner said. "This is the time of year we generate most of our money and are able to cover those bills, so it was quite hard on our business."

Epcor answered questions at city hall on Monday about the problem at the treatment plant.

A senior vice president for Epcor said no utility provides compensation for this type of scenario.

"We impact businesses, unfortunately, in a number of ways as we do our work to make sure that the system is reliable, whether its construction or otherwise," Frank Mannarino said. "In this particular case, it was fairly visible the impact on these businesses."

Epcor says it plans to follow up with the businesses that were impacted.

"We will be reaching out to them and setting up a separate meeting to discuss that," Mannarino said.

"We would like to hear their perspective and also try to learn from it."

Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said he feels for the businesses impacted and praised Epcor for how it handled the situation.

"I think Epcor tried to manage the situation as effectively as they could and communicate as effectively as they could, given the circumstances of the situation, and also making sure that the situation was dealt with as effectively as possible," Sohi said.

"Epcor absolutely is, in my mind, a very effectively run organization, and they look at risk assessment in a very effective way, so they identify certain things that need to be done."

Epcor said it's in the process of relocating the electrical room that caused the pipe failure and that repairs should be complete by early 2025.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Diego Romero Top Stories

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