Boiling water just tip of costly iceberg

Dear editor,

Re: A little perspective on boiling water (George Brose letter, April 7, Record). We live in a beautiful place, but this is another reason why I am upset at boil water advisories. Rather than pretend our high quality of life gives local decision-makers a free pass to mismanage water supplies, we owe it to ourselves to look deeper at this crisis.

We’ve reached a critical point – a watershed moment. Can we halt and repair damage so our forests may continue the “free” services of water storage and filtration? If not, the costs far surpass Mr. Brose’s “wish to avoid a case of the backdoor trots”.

Actually “diarrhea”, a leading cause of death for infants globally, is just one reason it’s also serious for our elders and anyone with a weakened immune system.  Let’s not belittle the potential persistence of things harmful to health in our water supply, as boil water advisories also affect small businesses and other services.

Boil water advisories are the new norm (Water Wise column, April 7, Record) says our drinking water used to be “high quality” and “typically so clean” we were going “to save money by avoiding filtration”. But now we “don’t have a choice” and taxpayers are “on the path to a costly filtration plant” estimated at $50-70 million.

Last year, nearby infrastructure was profiled in Western Canada’s Journal of Commerce, which states: “Unfortunately for Port Alberni’s water system, the [timber] companies’ lumbering activity reduces the watershed’s ability to store water…. the companies are responsible to its shareholders, not the residents”.

Leaders say they’re “discussing” a “watershed management plan” to reconcile the “need for high-quality water and their desire to harvest timber”.

Talk is cheap. Filtration isn’t. We need action, honest protection and restoration, achieved through whatever form it takes to get the job done.


Sue Smith




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