Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Readers write - Coldstreamer responds

The following comments appeared in response to my blog posting entitled More interesting facts regarding the borrowing referendum”. It is an interesting comment so I wish to share it and my response with you.
Anonymous said...

    Who's counting? I am!

    Phase 1 of the (updated) 2012 Master Water Plan recommends that $70 millon in Priority Projects be completed over the next 7 years. By provincial law, GVW requires voter approval to borrow this much, so we are headed to a referendum this November.

    Back in 2004, Greater Vernon residents approved the long-term borrowing of $35 million to help fund water system improvements, including the construction of the Duteau Creek Treatment (Clarification) Plant.

    Over the past decade, a total of $66 million has been invested into our regional water system, of which $18.4 million was funded by provincial and federal grants.

    Let's flip this question around:
    Why WOULDN'T we invest in our regional water system? And... why wouldn't we vote YES to borrow the funds, keep rates as low as possible, and share those costs with all current and future customers?

    The RDNO website contains up-to-date information about our Master Water Plan and the upcoming referendum:

    - Water Vote 2014

    - Progress Since 2004

    September 24, 2014 at 1:34 PM

My response

I would agree with you 100% if I were a member of the consulting team or a member of staff recommending the approval of this referendum.

I do know that we will need money for a water plan but this is not the plan I would favour. You see I lost confidence in both the consultants and staff in 2004. Let me tell you why.

The first Master Water Plan was produced in 2002. It was hailed as the best plan ever prepared by the best water engineers of Canada. It was promoted by staff in the mall, at various public presentations and by politicians in political rallies. Everyone was quite happy and politicians promoting the plan were elected into office.
The MWP 2002 promoted total separation as the solution to the water distribution problems. A peer review group supported the plan and various agreements were signed by the participants based on the plans recommendations.

However, something political must have happened. The plan was abandoned and a new variation was promoted, a variation the original planners rejected as too expensive and senseless. They warned against treating water aimed for agricultural irrigation.

Nevertheless, an Amendment to the MWP was presented in 2004 and the Duteau Creek Water Treatment Plant was proposed. Consultants of the same firms now promoted the new version, staff made presentations at the mall (the same staff who earlier swore by the MWP 2002). Politicians embraced this new version as well and the DCWTP was born for almost $30 M.

One thing was missing: there were no plans provided as to what will happen next. When asked why they built this huge treatment plant at DC when we only needed a very small amount of water for domestic use the response was: we got grants for treatment plants but we did not get grants for separation. 

This is where the problem lies. We had no reasonable idea what will happen with this enormous plant (someone referred to it as a white elephant) when we continued with our plans. In fact, we are still in the planning process ten years later. But the albatross around the planners neck was that $30 million investment called DCWTP. It had to be incorporated into the new plans otherwise we would have had difficulties explaining the wasted expenditures.

As it is, we are losing a significant value of the plant as the new plan only requires much smaller volume of the treated (clarified) water for future filtration (110 cubic meters per day versus the maximum capability of the plant at 162cubic meters per day).

An added "benefit" of the clarification pant is the high annual clarification costs: in 2012 the cost was about $2.2 M. Most of the so clarified water was used for agricultural irrigation.

It would have been nice to share the costs with future users but of the $66 M expenditures to date $12.6 M came out directly from the pockets of current users as we had to pay about $1.4 M annually over and above the Government grants and the taxpayer approved $35 M. That is a huge burden. Used for servicing a loan it could have serviced an additional $12 M loan for MWP purposes. Instead it was spent never to be shared with future taxpayers.

As for keeping water rates low just check out the cost increases over the years as compared to the promised increases in 2004.


2004 referendum promises    


Actual water rate increases



Anonymous said...

The real questions for voters to ask should be thus: Why would we pay so much money for such a miniscule benefit to general public health? Is the arbitrary turbidity threshold of 1 NTU locked in stone? Remember, it used to be 5 NTU. Can we get a variance to, say 1.3 NTU for the next 15 years to allow more cost effective treatment methods to be developed? Is there any proof that current TOC levels leaving the existing plant are actually causing excessive amounts of trihalomethanes anywhere in distribution? The simple fact is the benefit does not justify the cost and the environmental consequences of the proposed treatment upgrades will be with us forever.

Dana Mills

(BTW - who are you?)

Coldstreamer said...

To whom do you direct your question (who are you)?

I would assume you know who I am.

Coldstream Ratepayers News! All Coldstream residents are ratepayers!

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.

Gyula Kiss;


We must protect our rights and freedom! (Photo courtesy of D. Gibson) Click on eagle to watch EAGLECAMS

About Me

My photo
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.