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Pemberton water-conditioning project nears completion

End of March the target date for system to be fully functioning

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By the time the new water-conditioning system is fully installed for Pemberton residents, it will have been almost one year since the lead-contamination issue in the village's drinking water was reported in 2016.

The Village of Pemberton (VOP) council voted last year to approve a soda-ash conditioning treatment for the contaminated water, which in some homes contained 10 times the acceptable limit of lead.

At a public-meeting update on several projects on Monday, Jan. 16, VOP staff was onhand to update the residents and answer questions.

As the water-conditioning treatment process nears completion, Tim Harris, VOP Operational and Development Services Manager, said he hopes to have it completed by the end of March.

The lengthy process of the underground infrastructure to prepare for the treated water is almost complete, as is the extension to the well house, construction of which is currently hampered by snow and ice. Harris said there are only a few more rows of concrete perimeter to complete the structure, which is housed in plastic and was kept at a balmy 10 C, but work was suspended during the recent cold snap.

Once the construction is complete, water will be injected with the soda-ash treatment before it is pumped up to the reservoir. In the reservoir, sensors will continually check the pH level and, as Harris said, there will be some initial tweaking as levels are adjusted.

The work for ISL, the engineering firm that designed and administered the project, will soon come to an end.

"Then it's all ours for maintenance," said Harris.

After the initial discovery of lead in the water, to discussing options for treatment, Harris said: "I think this is definitely the right decision — we're trying to eliminate the corrosiveness of the water."

Pemberton property owner Sandy Ryan who came to the meeting said he'll be glad to see the installation complete.

"I know this is effective — it's a simple solution and I'm glad they're getting it done. It's water, right? You've got to have clean water."

The soda-ash treatment cost was roughly $560,000 with funds allocated from the Village Water Reserves and provincial Community Works gas tax Funds. The annual cost for operation of the system is about $45,000 and a prorated amount of $25,000 has been approved in the five-year financial plan for 2016-2020.

Said Harris: "We're not anticipating an increase in water utility rates at this time."

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