Regional district defends itself against Royston water allegations

Dear editor,
This letter is in response to the letter from Mr. Walter Spruyt (Record, Sept. 28).
Mr. Spruyt made a number of serious accusations and allegations about the Comox Valley Regional District’s (CVRD) operation of the former Royston Improvement District (RID) water system.

Dear editor,This letter is in response to the letter from Mr. Walter Spruyt (Record, Sept. 28).Mr. Spruyt made a number of serious accusations and allegations about the Comox Valley Regional District’s (CVRD) operation of the former Royston Improvement District (RID) water system.As Mr. Spruyt’s letter indicated, he is a former member of the Royston water advisory select committee, and he was unhappy with the fact that the RID asked the CVRD to take on its water provision, and make it a regional district service. I would like to take a little of your space, and a little of your readers’ time to provide the facts to clarify the issues raised by Mr Spruyt. It is true that daily operating decisions are made by CVRD staff without input from the Royston water advisory select committee; however, all larger decisions that require CVRD board approval are first reviewed and approved by the committee, and it is through that review that committee members have the opportunity to approve or deny staff recommendations. Mr. Spruyt says that chlorination equipment was removed and replaced although, in his opinion, the existing equipment was “fully operational.”However, at the time the RID water system was converted to a CVRD service, the chlorination equipment that existed wasn’t adequately sized to properly maintain the required Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) minimum chlorine residual in either the reservoir or in the distribution system.Because of the inadequate size of the equipment, excessive flushing was needed to ensure the water in the far reaches of the distribution system remained chlorinated. Since the installation of new chlorination equipment, the chlorine residual in the reservoir and in the distribution system has been maintained at a much more consistent value and held within the required parameters of VIHA’s standard.This has resulted in a safer water system and in a dramatically reduced requirement for flushing, thereby saving water and reducing bulk water costs. Mr. Spruyt also expressed concern that a concrete reservoir was taken out of service, and says that reduced the amount of available water for emergency purposes. In fact, the situation is more the opposite in that moving to a one reservoir system has actually improved the firefighting capacity and pressure of the entire system.Here’s how: the Royston water system had used two water reservoirs. Reservoir 1 was built in 1972 and is 14 feet shorter than reservoir 2 which was built in 2009. As the reservoirs are not the same height they must be operated “in series” with water cascading from reservoir 2 down to reservoir 1.The piping in place to allow this transfer is limited in its ability to meet the required fire flow. So, although the total volume of water stored is reduced, the Royston system now has better fire protection and higher water pressure than before.  Mr. Spruyt noted that the former RID office building is sitting vacant.  This issue has been the subject of two separate staff reports, and the original staff recommendation was to retain the building for possible future use. However, the Royston water advisory select committee did not endorse that recommendation, and a new recommendation to sell the property was approved.CVRD staff is currently acting on that recommendation. Any proceeds will be retained with the Royston water service and placed into capital reserves until required. Finally, Mr Spruyt says that flushing and hydrant servicing has not been done since the CVRD took on the service. Flushing is not required on the same frequency as it was, due to the greatly improved chlorine residuals, as outlined above. And fire hydrants are serviced annually; they were serviced in 2010 and will be serviced before the end of 2011. I would encourage Mr. Spruyt or anyone with further questions about the CVRD’s provision of the water service in Royston to contact Marc Rutten, senior manager of engineering services at 250-334-6080. Jim Argue Editor’s note: Jim Argue is the chair of the Royston water advisory select committee.

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