Sunday, June 6, 2010

Selected articles -- Morning Star, June 6, 2010.

This story could be entitled: The story of the Pipe Dream!

These two articles deserve special attention.

Back in the mid 1980's there was a major debate, one might classify it as major fight, on this same subject. There was an organization called Save Our Lakes (SOL for short) which was advocating the use of waste water for beneficial purposes. Wayne McGrath was the first president of the organization and after he became the Mayor of Vernon I have taken over the position. The last president was Alan Hill.

The major fight erupted over plans of abolishing spray irrigation and discharging waste water directly into Okanagan Lake. There were demonstrations, arrests and even elections won and lost over the issue. Over 7,000 signature were collected opposing the Pipe. However, the pipe was built at a cost of about $8 million and it is watching fish swim by ever since as it was only used once (in my opinion needlessly) since its construction.

Mayor McGrath won the Mayor’s position against incumbent Anne Clark as the electorate expressed it’s displeasure for the construction of the pipe. The irony of the situation is that it was Mayor McGrath and his Council who approved that single use.

Obviously, those days “thinking outside of the box” did not win many accolades from the establishment. As the chief technical adviser and the vice president of SOL I was often denounced by everybody in high places. The Media was not much help. They supported the official position.
Had we used those $8 million properly and made plans to use the waste water for purposes now being advocated by Mayor Lippert (except for drinking water) we would not need to advocate it: it would be “feit accompli”.

The moral of the story is that if you have a good idea it only takes time before others recognize it and run with it.


1 comment:

VernonResident said...

Thanks for posting this background, Gyula.

Our new sewer treatment plant is capable of treating the wastewater so well, that it is now of good enough quality to be dumped back into Okanagan Lake, or can be used for spray irrigation without notice (see story copied below from Vernon Daily Courier 2006).

The idea that, in this economy, we should expect to build another 10,000 units, equipped with grey water piping or not, is unrealistic. Look at all the existing developments not yet fully built out - those new units will not benefit. Think of how many will pay for this infrastructure, and how few will benefit. And how none of us in existing homes will ever benefit.

Meanwhile, the use of the lake outfall through that pipe that is "watching fish swim by", is readily available to us, at little to no cost.

This can't be one man's opinion versus another.

We need to consider using our lake outfall.

July 7, 2006

Vernon Daily Courier:
The City of Vernon could soon be operating under tougher sewage disposal guidelines as a result of the water reclamation plant that opened last year. In a letter to the Ministry of Environment, the city has asked to have their operating permit changed to reflect the plant’s increased capacity. A new agreement would allow more effluent to be disposed of in the MacKay Reservoir or, in case of emergency, through the outfall pipe in Okanagan Lake. “It’s an all together change in our operating certificate,” he said. “Anyone who operates a sewage treatment plant and disposes effluent in any fashion has to have a permit. The existing permit applies to the plant that the city used for the past five decades. The new permit would reflect the cleaner wastewater that comes from the new facility. “The issue before was because we couldn’t (treat sewage) really well (the ministry) was very strict on where we could spray irrigate,” he said. “The water is of such a high quality . . . we meet the (standards) to spray irrigate without notice.” As much as possible the city has tried to reuse wastewater by treating it and then using it as spray irrigation on fields all over the city. Under stricter environmental standards, the city will have to live up to those quality levels in monthly tests. The wastewater is now clean enough that the city could dump all of it into Okanagan Lake, but Gous said Vernon chooses not to except in emergencies. He said “political will” prevents them from pumping waste into the lake.

The new wastewater treatment plant uses the most cutting edge technology, Gous said. Large inorganic materials like paper and metal are filtered out at the beginning of the process. After that the wastewater passes through a series of clarifiers where bacteria, organic matter and harmful nutrients such as phosphorous and ammonia are removed. The final product is treated to make it meet Canadian drinking water guidelines, Gous said.

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The opinions expressed by "Coldstreamer" are strictly his own and do not represent the opinions of Coldstream Council!

Because I value your thoughtful opinions, I encourage you to add a comment to this discussion. Don't be offended if I edit your comments for clarity or to keep out questionable matters, however, and I may even delete off-topic comments.

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I have been a resident of Coldstream since 1976. I have had 15 years of experience on Council, 3 years as Mayor. As a current Councillor I am working to achieve fair water and sewer rates and to ensure that taxpayers get fair treatment. The current direction regarding water supply is unsustainable and I am doing all I can to get the most cost effective water supply possible.