Advisory of the Day
WILLOWBROOK, BC: SMALL BC WATER SYSTEM EXPECTING LONG TERM BWN
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By Ronan O'Doherty
A boil water notice that has been in place since September is expected to continue for a small British Columbia community.
The Willowbrook water system, which is located in the Okanagan Valley, serves about 80 connections, all of whom are affected by the advisory.
The system was taken over by the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen (RDOS) in the summer of 2016. Soon after taking control of the system, they started noticing occasional contamination, with positive tests for coliform being recorded.
"Since then we've been doing a number of tests and working with Interior Health," said Janine Dougall, Public Works Manager for RDOS," We've been sampling the system and the source water trying to determine where these total coliforms are coming from and we're trying to get an understanding of how to move forward effectively."
The current boil water notice has been on since September of 2017 and a timeline for it to be lifted is proving difficult to pin down.
"We're just in the process of issuing a request for proposal to hire a consultant to help us come up with a phased plan. We're hoping to do some work in 2018, as the regionally significant dollars have to be spent in 2018," said Dougall, adding, "For small systems the financing is challenging, which is why we're looking at a phased approach."
RDOS has had success coming up with some funding and grant money to help out the small community so far.
"In late 2017 our board of directors allocated federal gas tax funding through the Regionally Significant Project Gas Tax fund to a value of about $240,000 which will be used to do some of the upgrades to try and address this issue."
They will be exploring options that include chlorination, UV disinfection and upgrades to the well and pump house.
Additionally, RDOS has secured just under $40,000 in funding through the federally and provincially supported Clean Water and Wastewater Fund (CWWF) grant program, which funds infrastructure projects related to water across the country, to improve the water system's communication and alarm hardware for their pump house and reservoir.
If all goes smoothly, construction will begin this summer and is expected to be completed by autumn or early winter.
These benefits are coming at a cost to the residents however, with rates rising from $437.50 per property connection in 2017 to $1,008.05 per property connection in 2018. RDOS said in a recent newsletter that the increases are a result of the costs associated with, "Staff wages, basic system operation and the requirements for system upgrades to meet Interior Health Authority mandates on drinking water quality and source water protection."
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