I have decided to vote no against approving the master water plan referendum question that will be on our election ballot Nov. 15. I hope enough other voters will do so too such a level that the proposal will be soundly defeated.
There is no doubt that Greater Vernon needs to ensure that its needs for water continue to be met in terms of both quality and quantity. I am convinced that separating domestic water from agricultural water, expensive as that is, is the way to go. However, I am not convinced the $70 million requested to do this in the master water plan will be a prudent expenditure of tax dollars.
The scenario envisioned by the master water plan requires that the storage capacity of the reservoirs on the Aberdeen Plateau be increased and that water from that source continues to be purified to potable standards. Asking why that choice was made, left me awash in techno-speak and bafflegab.
Most of us (about 75 to 80 per cent if memory serves me correctly) get our drinking water from Kal Lake and it is fairly cheap to make potable because Mother Nature makes sure that most suspended material settles out naturally at no cost to us taxpayers and the deep lake provides sufficient dilution that e-coli and other harmful things can be easily treated with chlorination, ultra violet light and other fairly straight forward purification measures.
The bulk of our agricultural irrigation water and the remainder of our drinking water comes from Aberdeen Plateau sources via Duteau Creek. This is very expensive to make potable for two reasons.
One, it flows through farm lands and hence is subject to pollution from farm animals and runoff from farm fields on a year-round basis.
Second, winter melt along the course of the creek coupled with overflow spillage from the Aberdeen dams make it quite muddy and murky during spring runoff. Turbid water needs to be cleared up before chlorine and ultra violet light treatments can be used; otherwise, they are not effective. This soaks up lots of tax dollars, hence the $23 million or so we taxpayers coughed up for the Duteau Creek water treatment plant. Now we are being asked to pay to have the water filtered before it leaves the plant.
Why not just get extra drinking water from Kal Lake and just use the Duteau Creek system for irrigation? It still would not be cheap. We taxpayers would be on the hook to pay for the needed separation of our drinking water from water used for irrigation and for bigger pumps from Kal Lake and what have you. But, our ongoing treatment costs would be a lot less and we would not need to raise the Aberdeen dams especially if we brought back online water from the Antwerp Springs wells that not so long ago served 3,000 customers. They were shut down because of contamination by cow manure on fields coupled with substandard run-off protection.
Whooee! Does that get you an earful if you raise it, but the fact is that we lost the court case and I never did get a believable explanation why the wells were not re-activated.
Of course, our water gurus are all for having a state-of-the-art water treatment plant that lets them turn water from a source more appropriate for agricultural irrigation into something potable. I can appreciate them taking pride in that, but, I ain’t gonna pay for it unless a majority of voters forces me to do so.
Continuing to make water from a non-suitable source potable makes no sense to me, neither does filtering water that is used primarily used for agricultural purposes. Check out the Coldstreamer website of Coldstream Coun. Gyula Kiss to gain further insight into just how mind-boggling the master water plan truly is.