Black Pines residents will decide by Monday, Jan. 26 if they want to go ahead with a $1.345-million upgrade to their community water system.
That’s the day the return of petitions is due from the 42 properties in the system. If the result is positive — at least 50 per cent of the properties representing at least 50 per cent of the assessed value — the TNRD will apply for federal-provincial infrastructure funding to help build a new intake in the North Thompson River.
A third of the cost — $460,000 — would come from residents through a loan and be repaid either through an upfront payment or through a parcel tax.
Black Pines resident Craig Campbell asked me some questions about the issue and I’m publishing the email thread here, with permission, for general information.
From: Craig Campbell
To: Mel Rothenburger, Director, Electoral Area P
Happy New Year, Mel
We are preparing to return our proxy for the improvement to the water system. We were consulting with an engineer over the holidays and the question was raised what happens next. Supposedly the TNRD has approval from the IHA to go ahead with this system. Although I don’t believe this is in writing. When this new system is installed, and up and running, it will be at least 20 per cent short of meeting IHA’s criteria for clean healthy drinking water. Our question is, what is next? When we pay $10,000.00 for the new system, how long will it be before the TNRD comes back asking for more money to meet IHA’s requirements? Before we can give them our vote to borrow money, I would like some assurance that they will not be reaching into my pocket in a year or so to move to the next step to meet IHA’s criteria. If the TNRD is going to have to meet the health standards for drinking water, it should be a part of the master plan so it can be addressed before we start down the road of borrowing money. We have been informed that membrane systems for water treatment in small communities such as ours, are not only available but also affordable. The TNRD could mass purchase these for all their smaller systems. These units are reliable and require less maintenance and could be used twelve months of the year. I realize TNRD have sand filters in Blue River they would like to use but feel they are in conflict of interest as the filters would not be the best fit for our intake but would get them off the books at the TNRD.
Could you look into this for us and see if there is an agreement with IHA that this system will satisfy them for meeting our water needs, or if they are going to be pushing for more improvements down the road.
Thanks for your time.
From: Mel Rothenburger
To: Peter Hughes, Director of Environmental Services, TNRD
Hi, Peter, I received this email today from Craig Campbell. Could you please provide me with some answers to his questions so I can get back to him, esp. with respect to IHA? Thanks.
From: Peter Hughes
To: Dave Underwood, TRUE Consultants
Happy New Year. Hope you had a great holiday season.
With respect to Black Pines I thought I would update you on things. We had another meeting late November where we again presented the conceptual project design and an opinion from NHC confirming our preferred location of the intake is the best location. Took a straw poll to see how many were interested in continuing with the petition process and the vote was positive. We sent petition papers out to everyone prior to Christmas with a deadline of late January to return them.
Please see the email below. Would you be able to provide some rationale with respect to the use of the sand filters ( from Blue River) vs membrane filtration as suggested by Mr. Campbell. I know that the poor water quality in the North Thompson during freshet is the main reason but just a few comments would be appreciated.
From: Dave Underwood
To: Peter Hughes
Hi Peter, Happy New Year to you!
Thanks for the update on Black Pines. The question by Craig Campbell related to treatment is a very good one. The primary objective of this project was to install a new and reliable water system intake structure. At present, the existing intake has limitations which clearly impact its reliability. The secondary objective of this project was to reduce the “nuisance” turbidity to alleviate O&M efforts to the greatest extent possible. The last objective of the project was to ensure that all design concepts employed considered the fact that there is limited budget available for these improvements.
The “previous” attempt at a new water system intake did not factor in water treatment in any way. This project is similar, however we recognize that turbidity provides O&M challenges and so we have looked at a number of options that might reduce turbidity in a cost effective manner.
In terms of “buy-in” from IHA, Arden and I met with Curtis Neville and Ted Mahler on January 31, 2014. The objective of the meeting was to discuss the proposed project approach with that agency to ensure that there were no concerns from IHA’s perspective. IHA recognized that improvements to the intake system were important and that funding was limited. IHA agreed with the approach, however insisted that UV disinfection be applied as a component of the improvements to provide a second treatment barrier. The addition of UV has since been included within the cost estimate for this project.
The effectiveness of the “Blue River” filters for reduction of “nuisance” turbidity remains to be seen. With careful analysis of particle sizes and media sizing, it should be possible to see reduction in turbidity and associated O&M. However, during freshet conditions, it is quite possible that these filters will be in perpetual backwash and therefore not effective. More analysis in this regard will be required during predesign/design.
The overall design concept has allocated a space for “future treatment”. This has been included because we are aware that the “Blue River” filters do not achieve IHA’s requirements for filtration of surface water sources. That being said, IHA is not requiring the addition filtration at this time. Mr. Campbell is correct in wondering if it will only be a matter of time before IHA requires additional treatment to be employed at this utility. Only IHA can speak to this question. However, I think it is clear that a new intake must be constructed as a first priority. Once constructed, the addition of filtration to IHA requirements may consist of a future improvement at Black Pines. But without water, it is difficult to justify an in-depth treatment analysis. This is especially important recognizing that funding is limited. It is likely that the addition of future treatment would be contingent upon significant funding assistance from other levels of government.
In terms of the ultimate filtration technology that might be employed at Black Pines, membranes is an alternative that would certainly be looked at. Mr. Campbell is correct in saying that this technology has become more affordable in recent years. That said, significant capital investment would be required to implement this type of technology. The management of the backwash waste from a membrane system may impact the feasibility of utilizing this technology. However, as I mentioned previously, without water it is difficult to justify an in-depth treatment analysis, especially if IHA is accepting of the approach at this time.
I think this is probably a longer response than what you were expecting, but this is a very important point that Mr. Campbell makes and it is equally important to provide a comprehensive response.
Do not hesitate to contact me should additional questions/comments arise.
From: Peter Hughes
To: Mel Rothenburger
Please see the email below from Dave Underwood of TRUE Consultants. I asked him to review Mr. Campbell’s email and provide comment as he is the consultant of record. I agree with Mr. Underwood’s comment that “IHA is not requiring the addition of filtration at this time” and that only IHA can speak to that issue. The TNRD has an excellent working relationship with our Drinking Water Officers and IHA. As long as we are working toward improving water quality I suggest IHA will not force us down the road of filtration. There are no guarantees of that though.
I trust you will forward this information to Mr. Campbell. Please contact me if you require anything further.
Peter Hughes followed up with a further email to me noting that former Director John Sternig had committed $30,000 of gas tax funding toward installation of UV disinfection for the Black Pines system, as well as $20,000 toward UV for the Evergreen system, $30,000 to Pritchard and $25,000 each to Paul Lake and Pritchard sewer plants.
The $30,000 for Black Pines would not be included in the grant application as the UV would be installed separately.