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

Sprinkler system bursts at Florence Filberg Centre

Witnesses say water was pouring down from the building’s deck

Crews begin cutting down 100-year-old Comox willow tree

The tree was determined to be unhealthy and is being cut down due to safety concerns

Best of World Community Film Fest screens Tuesday

The votes are in from the recent World Community Film Festival and… Continue reading

Merville resident looking for help to name original settler families

Janice Isenor is hoping to figure out which families settled where in Merville 100 years ago

Cultural sharing for Comox Valley School District song unveiling

After nearly a year in the making, a special gift was presented… Continue reading

B.C. students win Great Waters Challenge video contest

Video, mural and song about saving the salmon claims the top prize

Ammonia leak shuts down curling club in Nelson

It’s not yet clear when the leak was detected

Pavelski’s 31st goal helps Sharks top Canucks 3-2

Vancouver one point out of second NHL wild-card spot

Eight cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver outbreak

Coastal Health official say the cases stem from the French-language Ecole Jules Verne Secondary

Ontario police field complaints over Amber Alert for missing girl, 11, found dead

Some said the Amber Alert issued late Thursday for Riya Rajkumar disrupted their sleep

Former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell accused of sexual touching

Accuser went to police, interviewed by Britian’s Daily Telegraph

B.C. couple attacked with acid, slashed with knife in Vietnam

Warning, graphic images: Man has burns on 80 per cent of his body, slashed with knife

Northern B.C. First Nation clan says ancient tools found at pipeline work site

Archeologists from the Smithsonian Institute estimate one of the stones found dates back up to 3500 years

Most Read