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Governments re-announce municipal funding

Money to fund repairs to Pemberton’s water supply



The federal and provincial governments have re-announced funding for repairs to Pemberton’s water supply, money that the mayor already knew was coming last December.

In a news release dated June 27, the Government of Canada and the Province of British Columbia hail the investment of $147 million in infrastructure projects through the Canada-B.C. Municipal Infrastructure Fund (CBCMRIF). $355,500 will go to Pemberton for a new groundwater supply well and help connect all of its water supplies.

“The investments under the Municipal Rural Infrastructure Fund will make considerable improvements to quality of life in these communities,” Rona Ambrose, minister of Western Economic Diversification, said in the news release.

Her ministry announced the funding in conjunction with British Columbia’s ministry of community development, as well as B.C.’s ministry of transportation and infrastructure.

Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy, however, said the Village of Pemberton (VOP) knew the money was coming six months ago.

The Pemberton website has a link to a press release from Dec. 20 that announces $355,500 from the same bodies mentioned in the June 27 release.

Sturdy added, however, that environmental assessments and contract work have to be done before the VOP can receive the funds.

“Why, you might ask, it takes six months to have money forwarded to the municipality, it’s a good question, but it’s not a question for me,” he said. “We’ve been pushing, because we want to get this project off the ground and it’s going to take six months to get it complete. We don’t want to be doing construction in the middle of winter.”

The project, pegged at a total cost of $966,750 according to the VOP website, seeks to construct a well to accommodate a growing demand for water in the area and provide a backup source in the event of a failure by another well.

Sturdy said the well has already been dug, but the VOP is now seeking to construct a building that will house a treatment and conditioning facility.

“We have three wells anywhere from 100 feet to 150 feet deep, they all will be connected together and supply us with water which will pump up into our reservoir,” he said.

Sturdy explained that Pemberton’s water has a low pH concentration, which measures the level of acid in a solution.

The Pemberton website said the pH level was at 6.55 in February 2006. The Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality (GCDWQ) deem an acceptable pH concentration as lying between 6.5 and 8.5. Pemberton’s water, therefore, lies close to the lower end of an acceptable pH level.

A pH level close to 6.5 can mean the water is corrosive, which means that undesirable chemicals can be lifted from the plumbing and piping of a water distribution system, according to a VOP memo.

Sturdy said Pemberton has itself encountered problems with certain types of plumbing, but hopes the new well will help resolve that issue.

“What will be new about this, the new well, is it will have treatment and conditioning,” he said. “Vancouver Coastal Health tends to want communities to invest in ground source wells, because there’s less likelihood of contamination than in a surface water supply.”

Problems with Pemberton’s water system date back to 1992, when the first well was drilled.

After 10 years it failed, according to Sturdy, because its capacity increased “dramatically” and made it difficult to draw water. This occurred because the well had plugged up a screen used to filter sand and gravel out of its borehole, which resulted in reduced flows.

The new well, which was drilled last fall, will come in addition to another that was drilled in 1997. The first well, built in 1992, will be partially restored and all three wells will be connected as part of the project.

“In my perspective you don’t want to have one well,” he said.

Sturdy hopes the project can be completed “before the snow flies” in November or December.

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