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Water treatment in sight, but damage done

Pemberton’s Creekside Village dealing with ‘cancer of the plumbing’



Drilling of a second well in Pemberton began this week, and plans to start treating the Village of Pemberton’s water sources are in the works.

But Rob Szachury, owner of Turbo Plumbing, says many residents in Pemberton are still having problems with their plumbing, as the VoP’s untreated, corrosive water is reacting with brass fittings, causing leaks and flooding.

Szachury says the pH problem began when Pemberton switched from surface water to ground water in 1997.

According to the VoP’s website, Pemberton’s drinking water has a pH level of 6.55, which just falls under acceptable guidelines for Canadian drinking water quality, which range from 6.5 to 8.5.

A report prepared for the village by Earth Tech consultants states water with a pH level below 6.5 “can result in leaching of undesirable compounds from the plumbing and piping systems of water distribution systems.”

The report also compares Pemberton’s water quality with the Capilano Reservoir drawn on by the Greater Vancouver Regional District, pointing out that the latter is actually more corrosive than Pemberton’s source.

But water from Capilano is treated with sodium hypochlorite to reduce the natural corrosiveness.

Earth Tech’s report, which was prepared last October, also made several suggestions for treatment of Pemberton’s water supply to reduce pH.

Mayor Jordan Sturdy acknowledges Pemberton’s water is on the low end of the scale, and says they plan to implement treatment and conditioning on the new and old wells concurrently to raise the pH level to a more mid-range level.

So why hasn’t Pemberton been treating its water? Basically, it would have cost too much money.

Sturdy says the village would have first had to implement a temporary system, then a permanent system to house a treatment facility, which would have effectively doubled the costs.

“If we had additional resources, we would have dealt with this at some time in the past… but you have to make choices, and the choices are not always easy.”

Sturdy explained the village’s focus has been on finding a secondary water source. Right now, they are running on one well, and if that failed, the town would only have an 8 to 12 hour water supply.

“That’s the number one priority… as long as we have water, we could boil it or do whatever we had to do. But if you don’t have water, you’re hooped.”

However, the village is planning to treat all of its water once the new well, which they began drilling on Tuesday, is connected to the old water source.