Water issue coming to a boil

Four weeks later, we are still under a boil water advisory

And so here we are, four weeks after the “Great Flood of 2014” and still under a boil water advisory.

It’s ridiculous. Absurd. Heads should roll for this one.

There is no proper explanation as to why, with all of today’s technology, we should have to boil our water.

Who’s going to lose their job over this one?

When is the city going to start dropping bottled water off at my doorstep?

I pay taxes. For what?

People are fed up, and they aren’t going to take it anymore.

It’s amazing what a little inconvenience will do to people’s common sense.

First world problems, indeed.

Relax, people. Count to 10. Better yet, count to 1,000. By then your water will have boiled.

Who is to blame? Well, no one … yet. And the CVRD is trying to keep it that way, by telling you to boil water, for your own safety.

Are those making the call erring on the side of caution? In all likelihood, yes.  And we should all be OK with that.

But, as with any inconvenience, many of us are not at all “OK with that.”

One online rant actually compares this current situation to Walkerton, but in the wrong fashion. The rant implied that “we should have learned from Walkerton.”

Truth of the matter is, we have. The Walkerton, Ontario disaster is, more than any other cause, the reason we are boiling water.

Everything changed after that tragedy 15 years ago, when seven people died from the effects of drinking contaminated water.

What is happening here is, if anything, the opposite of what happened in Walkerton.

It has been proven, beyond doubt, that had a boil water advisory been issued three weeks earlier than it was in Walkerton, those seven victims would not have died from E. coli poisoning – not to mention the thousands that suffered less terminal effects.

The landscape of water testing changed as a result of that tragedy and the ensuing Walkerton Commission of Inquiry.

Am I insinuating that what we have here in the Comox Valley is some heroic preventative measure of the spread of a deadly bacteria? Of course not. First off, this isn’t a bacteria issue. It’s a turbidity issue, which would cost taxpayers as much as $70 million to rectify. That’s the going rate for a filtration system. By my math, that’s a tax increase of roughly $1,166 per person ($46 per year for the next 25 years).

Suddenly, the complaining taxpayers go quiet.

Now, we all know that a certain percentage of people out there are not abiding by the advisory – many of them are already “bragging” of their bravery online. Congrats… and if you aren’t abiding by it anyway, why are you complaining about it?

As for the rest of the complainers out there, you are correct: you have the right to clean drinking water. The CVRD is doing its part to make sure you get it. All they are recommending is that you bring your water to a full boil first.

Is it really that tough? Is that your biggest worry as you head into 2015 – that you have had to  boil your drinking water for the past few weeks? If it is, then you lead a pretty charmed life. And yes, we do lead pretty charmed lives in this part of the world. More than half the global population would be thrilled with the assurance that boiling their water would make it pure enough to drink without worry of side effects.

Whose job should be on the line here? No one’s.  Those making the call at the CVRD have only our best interests in mind when they post boil water advisories, air pollutant advisories and the such. I thank them. We all should.

Terry Farrell is the editor of the Comox Valley Record


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