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It could take months and millions to make all of Princeton’s water safe to drink

Mayor: ‘We are doing the best we can with the system that we are working with’

It will likely be several months before the majority of Princeton residents can drink water out of the taps.

“We are doing the best we can with the system that we are working with,” Mayor Spencer Coyne said in an interview with the Spotlight on Monday, Jan. 31.

The majority of the community is on a boil water advisory following the Nov. 14 flood.

Homes on the benches – on a different system – have enjoyed potable water since Christmas.

The solution to the town’s new water woes may be expensive, Coyne added, with costs estimated from $1 million to $4 million.

Jared Thomas, Princeton’s infrastructure technologist, explained that flood waters entered into the aquifers which supply the municipal wells.

That water, while somewhat filtered, continues to produce positive tests for coliform – an indicator of bacteria – in its untreated state.

After the regular chlorination process the water tests clean, but that’s not enough for the health authority, Thomas said.

“It’s all precautionary, but Interior Health (IH) really did crack down on that.”

The boil water advisory can only be lifted by IH. Samples are tested daily, and at this time the authority is saying it needs to see 120 consecutive days of clear tests before the order is lifted.

There are options, but they are pricey, said Coyne.

IH would like to see the town upgrade its water system to allow for more contact time between raw water and the chlorination process.

That’s about a $1 million fix, the mayor said.

Additionally, IH could require the installation of UV radiation to the present system, which would cost another $1 million.

An alternative, said Coyne, could be to move the wells to safer ground and build a system that incorporates the new technologies. Such a project would cost about $4 million.

“Do we put $2 million into 50 and 30 year old facilities, when for $4 million we could move the wells back…so that we could avoid this in the future?” Coyne asked. “That’s the million dollar question.”

In a recent conversation with Municipal Affairs Minister Selina Robinson, Coyne was given some indication that funds might be granted for such a project.

The mayor said he wants to remind people under the advisory that the water is safe for bathing and for plants. Clean, drinkable water is also available from a ‘self-serve’ tap at the Princeton Curling Club on Highway 3, next to the Husky.

Related: Princeton mayor calls out Trudeau for lack of support to flooded town

Related: Princeton’s water system hanging – literally – by a fire hose

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Andrea DeMeer

About the Author: Andrea DeMeer

Andrea is the publisher of the Similkameen Spotlight.
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