Aging pump concerns Sandwick Water Works operator

Dear editor,

Last year the Sandwick Water Works Improvement District (part Area B and part Courtenay annexed area) pumped water from the Puntledge River as it has every summer for more than 30 years.

The volumes were substantial – upwards of 16 million gallons or approximately 72,000 cubic metres of water was required to meet the increased demand of 680 residents, Huband Park Elementary School, Vanier High, as well as many small businesses.

The Puntledge River intake, known as Pump No. 4, is a surface water source.

Unlike well water, surface water requires a multi-barrier treatment approach to make it potable or safe to drink.

This explains why the Island Health Drinking Water Treatment for Surface Water Supplies Policy, known as the 4-3-2-1 water treatment protocol, is in place.

When the water pumped from a river is located downstream from agriculture operations, the case with Pump 4, then the risk to health increases. If contaminated surface water enters a public water supply, as it did in the Walkerton tragedy, death can result.

Walkerton was the catalyst for many of the water protection strategies used in jurisdictions across Canada today, but it took a tragedy on the scale of Walkerton to bring about changes. Walkerton demonstrated what happens when heavy rain, agricultural run off, poor system design and a lack of governance occur at once. It’s called a perfect storm. Perfect storms are incredibly hard to predict. Only in hindsight do we hear the words, “I had a feeling that something wasn’t right.”

As a water operator for the Sandwick water district I have a fiduciary responsibly to advise the board of trustees about the implications of decisions that could cause harm or be contrary to legislative requirement.

Based on water quality and low water conditions that existed in the summer of 2015, I believe that Pump 4, the Puntledge River intake, poses a threat to public health.

Further, according to a McElhanney Design Brief dated February 2012, Pump 4 is at the end of its useful life.

The Sandwick Board of Trustees dismisses these concerns. They rejected my report to Island Health documenting problems with the operation of Pump 4.

Clean water depends on good governance. In the months preceding Walkerton, which left seven dead and thousands, mostly seniors and children, with lingering health problems, I wonder if there were questions about the safety of the water system or suspicions that something wasn’t right.

Dale Presly, Water Operator

Sandwick Water Works

Improvement District

 

Just Posted

WITH VIDEO: Two endangered marmots released on Mount Washington

With three new pups born in May, two more Vancouver Island Marmots… Continue reading

Comox Archives and Museum makes presentation to d’Esterre Seniors’ Centre

At its June board meeting, Comox Archives and Museum board presented an… Continue reading

Annual Denman Island pancake breakfast coming up

Local fundraiser supports many initiatives

VIDEO: Miners Memorial graveside ceremony

For 34 years, the Cumberland Museum and Archives has presented Miners Memorial,… Continue reading

Having a day in the park

A temporary transmitting station is set up in Filberg Park in Comox… Continue reading

Video shows fireworks shot at swan in Alberta

Alberta Fish and Wildlife is investigating the incident in Grande Prairie

‘Text neck’ causing bone spurs to grow from millennials’ skulls, researchers say

Technology use from early childhood causing abnormal bone growths in 41 per cent of young adults

B.C. teen killed by fallen tree on field trip remembered as hero

13-year-old Tai Caverhill was the first to spot the tree falling and warned his friends

Surrey RCMP raises Pride flag amid din of protesters

There were about 30 protesters on either side, and 20 Mounties doing crowd control

Should B.C. get rid of Daylight Saving Time?

The province wants to know, as state governments down south make the move

Air Canada reviewing how crew left sleeping passenger on parked plane

In a Facebook post, the woman said she woke up ‘all alone’ on a ‘cold dark’ aircraft

Canadians crash out of Women’s World Cup in 0-1 loss to Sweden

Canada missed a chance to tie the game on a penalty shot

Four-year-old boy assaulted at B.C. soccer game

It happened at a weekend tournament in Ashcroft

Two bear cubs saved near Revelstoke after mother hit by car

Conservation officers trapped the cubs and transported them to a wildlife sanctuary

Most Read