Advisory of the Day
Update 2020/11/4 - Posted 2020/8/30
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OPINION - MISTY RIDGE WATER SAGA
Editor's Note: This email was sent to our reporter, Gillian Ward, from one of the sources named in the article posted on August 30. The article was thoroughly fact checked and WATERTODAY stands by its content.
I saw your article about Misty Ridge for the first time, in Julio Godoy’s affidavit.
Given I was not permitted to see a draft, I am asking that you either modify or withdraw this article due to the number of errors in it. You can retain your slant that we are a bad company, as that is your choice insofar as it is not slanderous.
With respect to Misty Ridge, two of the five users are family - my sister and I, not three as stated in your article.
Our books have been subject to a full and complete review by the Comptroller of Water Rights twice; once when your information source and their cronies demanded that the Water Management Branch disassemble Misty Ridge and (about) five years after that. We were required to provide every cost invoice of Misty Ridge and every invoice to every customer. Both times our books were found to be in order by the Comptroller’s office.
Our invoices to each customer are highly detailed.
Users on our system were without water on many occasions due to the malicious vandalism perpetuated by your information source and his cronies. At one time he came after my husband with BBQ tongs.
This stopped after they poisoned the reservoir. The reservoir poisoning was a criminal action with intent to kill. Rory Biese of Island Health said we were lucky no one died. It was only the quick action of our users and strong communication that saved lives that day. Your cronies broke into our reservoir and dumped a pickup truck full of horse manure and chemicals used in the distillation of essential oils (one of the cronies businesses). The RCMP, while they did NOT conduct an intensive investigation due to lack of resources. Constable Buxton-Carr told me that to my face and that if I wanted something done, I should go looking on my own for information because they had insufficient resources to look at it. Both video surveillance cameras (owned by your friends) had been shut off. There was no video footage to view. Yes, the RCMP looked, but one had been turned off and the other was “broken”. The reservoir is behind a locked gate (fenced in by your friends cronies with their yard) that had not been damaged. The locks on the reservoir were broken. However, the incident did cause the RCMP to review their Misty Ridge file for the previous 22 call outs, call outs we made seeking protection for our water from your information source and his cronies. After reviewing their large file, the RCMP apologized to us and have since supported our access injunction and the system. It has been quiet since then, at least on the physical operations side.
Seven users did NOT voluntarily withdraw. Three were cut off after years of non-payment. These are some of your information sources. The three withdrew because and I quote “they are going to attack us again, and we can’t afford the legal bills”. The fourth voluntarily resigned a directorship and left the water system under a cloud of breach of fiduciary duty - who is one of your disgruntled law suit participants and likely one of the reasons this has been going on fir so long.
If you actually go through our records, you will see that Boil Water Advisories, except for the current one, correspond to the vandalism conducted by your information source.
All of the above can be supported by documentation. My sister and I are accountants and keep very good records.
We need municipal water in this community which is why I agreed to talk to you.
Contrary to your opinion, I am not happy with your article. There is no reference to Walkerton or anything that will help us get municipal water.
May I have the name(s) of the owners of Watertoday.ca please.
Misty Ridge Community Water Company Ltd.
Article, August 30, 2020
EAST SOOKE, BC: LOCAL WATER FIGHT REACHES RCMP, BC SUPREME COURT
By Gillian Ward
A picturesque rural residential community on Vancouver Island remains under a boil water advisory issued two years ago, no end in sight.
Photo Credit: East Sooke Capital Regional District
According to Vancouver Island Health Authority, the Misty Ridge Community Water Company Inc. (MRCWC) operates a water treatment system that does not comply with BC drinking water regulations, a matter that has plagued this community from its beginning, well over twenty years ago.
Residents of Misty Ridge, located along a section of Seedtree Road in the East Sooke Capital Regional District, informed WaterToday the lots were offered for sale in 1998 by three developers, with the understanding that drinking water would be delivered through the development’s own water utility, jointly owned and operated by the title holders.
Some residents claim that water to their properties was shut off dozens of time a year, and boil water advisories occurred with regularity. When some of the owners took legal action against their own water utility, the cost was divided and distributed back to the water users.
WaterToday heard from three of the owners, claiming to have received water bills into multiple thousands, claiming no detailed breakdown to explain the charges. Disgruntled owner/shareholders claim the water company books had not been presented for review or audit as requested.
Frustration with the Misty Ridge water supply escalated into the criminal realm in the summer of 2014. An incident was reported to police in 2014, as a witness told WaterToday , it appeared someone had attempted to contaminate the community water storage reservoir.
WaterToday contacted E Division, RCMP Subdivision headquarters in Victoria for more information on the alleged water sabotage event at Misty Ridge.
According to Cpl. Chris Manseau of BC Subdivision office, RCMP, “In August 2014 the Sooke RCMP were contacted about mischief that occurred to a private water reservoir that fed approximately 12 units. Through investigation it was determined that the lock on the lid of the reservoir had been broken and that a substance had been put into the water. Testing was conducted on the water and it was found to contain a high level of e-coli bacteria, coming from what was believed to be horse manure. An extensive investigation was conducted by the Sooke RCMP but no suspect was identified, and charges were never put forward for Crown Counsels review.”
As of this writing, seven of the original twelve households have withdrawn from MRCWC, opting for non-conforming private cisterns and having potable water delivered by truck.
Five title holders in Misty Ridge now share the cost to operate the water company, including legal fees that continue to accumulate from two civil suits presently before the BC Supreme Court.
WaterToday obtained files from BC Supreme Court to find that two disgruntled property owner/shareholders have petitioned the highest trial court in British Columbia, seeking dissolution of the conflicted water utility, citing shareholder oppression.
These same petitioners have appealed to BC Premier John Horgan for intervention in their matter, with no response from the Premier’s office as of yet. One resident alleges that civil servants in the water regulatory branch have referred to Misty Ridge residents as the Hatfields and McCoys, and advised they just need to learn to get along.
Marilyn Fleming says she bought her place in Misty Ridge over twenty years ago and has no intention of giving it up over the long term conflict over water here.
“I can watch orcas in the strait”, she says of the view from her deck, facing south toward Washington, with a sentiment echoed by many property owners that would rather work out solutions to their water needs or flooding issues, than give up and move away.
Mrs. Fleming defends the MRCWC system design and function, telling WaterToday the five properties still with MRCWC are served with good water from two deep wells and storage reservoir. The water is managed by the remaining user group, including Fleming and her family, which own collectively three of the five properties left on the system.
Mrs. Fleming says there is no intention to remedy the boil water order. Fleming says her household has not stopped drinking the water, rather, the boil water advisory is leverage, hoping that the CRD moves to pipe municipal water to Misty Ridge in the future.
WaterToday reached out to the Environmental Health Inspector with Vancouver Island Health that initiated the boil water advisory here in August 2018. We received this email reply on September 1:
"The Misty Ridge water system was placed under a boil water advisory due to the presence of E.coli which exceeded acceptable levels. The boil water advisory remains in place due to a history of frequent positive Total Coliform results identified by subsequent testing.
Island Health is committed to working with operators to bring water systems back into compliance. The boil water advisory can be lifted once our Environmental Health Officer is satisfied sample results are within acceptable levels and a full inspection of this water system has occurred."
Water is difficult to obtain in this beautiful part of our country. Drilling to depths of 700 or 800 feet is required, with no guarantees. The CRD limits approvals for new water distribution projects, as the infrastructure is very costly in this terrain. For Misty Ridge, a peaceful and friendly solution for clean drinking water is still hoped for.
WaterToday will update our readers as this interesting case unfolds in BC.
NOTE: In the orignal version of this article, WT had not yet received a reply from Vancouver Island Health. The email reply was received on September 1, 2020. This version includes it.
MISTY RIDGE, BC : BWA ON PRIVATE PROPERTY SINGLE WELL LEADS TO LEGAL BATTLE
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