By Cindy Filipenko
Summer water restrictions remain in effect in Pemberton, not because of water levels, but to reduce unnecessary demand on the community’s lone well.
Efforts to establish a secondary water source this year have so far been unsuccessful. A surface water source, which served the community before the well system was established, is now being considered.
Earth Tech, has been retained to manage the project and will be commenting on the community’s water quality. Anecdotal reports throughout the community allege that due to the low PH factor (6.5 as opposed to an ideal of 7.0), the water is extremely corrosive and has damaged copper tubing used in older homes in Pemberton. As well, some residents have implied that the water has been detrimental to their health.
David Allen, director of development services for the Village of Pemberton (VOP), says that preliminary data from Earth Tech would indicate that the water is less corrosive than previously thought. This information will influence the cost, and type, of water conditioning system that the VOP will implement as the water system is upgraded.
“Wherever there’s an opportunity to save money, we will,” stated Allen “We have to do our due diligence and get the report from project management before we decide what to do.”
Allen confirmed that regardless of the velour corrosion, water treatment was a priority, it was just a matter of ensuring the appropriate system is put in place.
While unproductive test wells ate up most of the money from funds earmarked for developing a new well earlier this year, the current budget shows $220,000 allocated to address the problem.
Allen pointed out that these are funds on hand and that the VOP will be perusing provincial, municipal and rural infrastructure grants.
“We looked hard at where to put a new well. When you start looking at geography, it’s very limited — two or three locations,” said Mayor Jordan Sturdy.
Goldar, the hydrogeological company that has been retained for the engineering aspects of the project, had considered rehabilitating an existing dormant well. That idea has now been abandoned due to the costs associated with the rehabilitation and the risk that it could prove futile.
“There have been discussions with the project management about surface water,” said Allen.
While surface water could easily augment water for fire flows, Allen says the costs for residential use could be too high.
“In terms of drinking water, because of B.C.’s water standards, it costs a lot more to treat surface water.”
It was pointed out that drinking surface water has worked well for the Greater Vancouver Regional District.
“The big problem with the surface water reservoir used here before was that they had to shove out two feet of silt every couple of years because the water was glacier run-off,” Allen said.