Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Readers Write - Letter to the Editor (published with permission)

I believe the resounding defeat of the master water plan referendum shows that you cannot fool all the people all the time and underscores the need for politicans to take off their rose coloured glasses.

The provision of an adequate amount of safe drinking water is absolutely essential and elected officials need to hold those senior members of the water utility who have just been showing part of the overall water picture to the public to account.

It is ridiculous how much emphasis has been put on getting drinking water from Duteau Creek whilst largely ignoring the fact that the vast majority of people in Coldstream and Vernon get their water from the Mission Hill waterworks that draws its water from Kal Lake. Doing so distorts the water reality.

I suspect a lot of people currently getting their drinking water from Duteau Creek could be switched at reasonable expense to the Mission Creek water that comes from Kal Lake.

Problem is, from the perspective of those with vested interests, that would really show what a white elephant Duteau Creek is as a source of drinking water.

Intially, we were told that we needed to spend millions on the Duteau Creek waterworks because the province would not give us enough water rights to take water from Kal or Okanagan Lakes to meet our needs. That drum is no longer being beaten with much enthusiam perhaps because it’s credibility has been undermined by the fact that other communities bordering the lakes have water licences permitting them to draw what they need from the lakes. It’s hard to believe that the province would deny Vernon what it has granted to Kelowna, that is unless we fail to make a good case that we need the water licences. The horrendous cost of turning Duteau Creek water into something drinkable makes a darn good case, does it not?

Another thing the senior people at the water utility have told us is that Interior Health has ordered us to filter our drinking water. Quite frankly, that’s pretty hard to swallow. I think it far more likely that Interior Health has said that our drinking water needs to meet certain standards and left it up to our water gurus to figger out how to meet those standards.

I’m thinking too that Interior Health has few if any concerns about the bulk of our drinking water that comes from Kal Lake. Duteau Creek water is another matter entirely. Despite the millions of taxpayer dollars poured into making it drinkable, Duteau Creek water, especially at the time of spring runoff, has too many suspended particules that diminsh the efficacy of chlorination or ultra violet treatments. The fact that a lot of cattle poop in the creek and a lot of runoff from nearby fields contaminate it as it meanders through agricultural lands on it’s way to the multi million dollar waterworks does not reduce the cost of purification to drinking water standards either.

I’m no expert but I am a firm believer that you do not have to be a chef in order to criticize the cooking. What amazes me is that our elected officials ever approved spending so much to make water from a nonsuitable source drinkable in the first place.

Now, our elected officials need to go back to the drawing board and come up with a more economical plan. They also need to do so with their eyes wide open. It is common knowledge that fudging terms of reference can hamstring outside experts into being unable to recommend what they otherwise would do if not so fettered.

Over to you, our newly elected officials. We need you to sort this out for us. An adequate source of drinking water is a fundamental need, having it done at affordable cost is a fundamental need too. Kindly roll up your sleeves and get on with the job. Give the raspberry to any so-called experts who expound taking water from a source that is so initially unsuitable for making it drinkable that it will never be affordable.

It upsets me that letter such as this needed to be written. For goodness sake you elected officials, do you not realize that your constituents rely on you to determine how many beans make five on the provision of a need so fundamental as enough safe drinking water. Shame on your predeccessors, shame too on those of you who held elected office whilst some of the prolifigate water decisions were made over the past several administrations.

I am one irate citizen who feels badly let down.


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

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About Me

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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.