EDITORIAL: Lack of water must be a priority

Regional district must take action to prevent future fires at the landfill

It’s great to see that the Regional District of North Okanagan is considering options for water supply at the Greater Vernon landfill.

Unfortunately, though, the process comes after two massive fires occurred within six months.

Yes, establishing a water supply at the remote site will be costly but how expensive was the response to Monday’s blaze?   Dozens of firefighters, helicopters and air tankers don’t come cheap. RDNO now must also contract a private firm to complete mop-up.

On top of this, consider that given the time required for trucks to travel to College Way for water, the emergency could have evolved into something far worse than it was. What would RDNO’s liability have been had the blaze spread into a nearby residential neighbourhood?

The most likely option for water is tapping into the leachate pond (water that has percolated through buried garbage). Given that the pond is already there, that is a positive. But is there a consistent source of leachate to ensure a sufficient supply? Also, the pond is fed by surface runoff like rain, but we we all know this summer was extremely dry.

The more reasonable option is  extending domestic water or treated effluent lines from Commonage Road to the landfill. Granted easements would be needed with the property owners but co-operating is to their advantage as they wouldn’t want a wildfire to roar out of control and threaten them.

The entire North Okanagan has invested significant dollars in the landfill and action is required to protect a vital community asset. But more importantly, is doing it right.