Big Eddy Water District board concerned for Big Eddy future

The deadline of Feb. 5 is fast approaching for Big Eddy residents to sign a petition that will allow the City of Revelstoke to take over the Big Eddy Water Works and use a $3.8 government grant to upgrade the system.

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This image shows proposed pipe system upgrades and changes for the Big Eddy water system. Photo: via City of Revelstoke document.

Big Eddy Water District Board member Don Hall said he is worried what the future will hold if the Big Eddy residents do not vote for the City of Revelstoke to take over their water system.

Currently, Big Eddy residents have until Feb. 5 to sign the petition to allow the city to move ahead with the $5.69 million infrastructure upgrade to ensure the system is compliant with provincial health regulations.

With about $3.8 in federal and provincial government grant money at stake, Hall said if this petition does not go ahead, that money will disappear and nothing will change.

“That grant is only subject for the city to use, not for the Big Eddy Water District,” he said. “If the city doesn’t take it over, they’re not able to get the grant, and [the Big Eddy Water District] spends $6 million over the next few years.”

Hall, along with his colleague Brian Dyck, released an information sheet to media on Tuesday to add more facts to the discussion.

It explains that 30 per cent of the Big Eddy water mains are up to 60 years old and, with two fires in recent years, the Big Eddy fire flow is less than half of the required 150 litres per second, at 66 litres per second.

“After talking to Fire Chief Rob Girard, we were informed that pressure and flows were inadequate for commercial and a tender [for] carrying water was employed to bring water over from the city side to maintain sufficient flows,” the information flier said.

While the initial cost for Big Eddy residents may be significant, Hall believes that in the long run, Big Eddy residents may experience lower water bills with the city in charge.

“They [the city] have all of the operational stuff in place,” he said. “They don’t need to hire anyone new, they can absorb us into their system.”

Hall said that the waterworks has about $80,000 in operational costs, $10,000 of that is insurance.

“Under the city’s insurance, the operational costs [for the Big Eddy Waterworks] should be down,” Hall said. “It’s the infrastructure that all this money is going towards.”

Hall has been busy speaking to residents about the petition and he said that residents whom are yet to sign appear to be in two camps. Those that are anti-government and those that are not sure of the information.

“I can understand it’s tough to understand, it’s taken me a while,” Hall said. “I’ve been working on this for two years, everyone else has three months to get on the same page.”

Listen: Don Hall and Brian Dyck will chat on EZ Rock radio, 106.1, on Thursday, Jan. 28 around 8:10 a.m. about this issue.

Previous stories: Big Eddy Waterworks

The Big Eddy Water Board sent out an information leaflet to local media outlets on Jan. 26. Here are some of the points contained in the media release.

Big Eddy Water Board – latest information

Project cost: Total $5.69. $3.785,354 supplied by federal and provincial government if water service given to City of Revelstoke.

Works: $2 million – reservoir, $2.94 million – upgrade water mains, $1 million on projects such as – a third well, upgrade existing wells, upgrade pumps.

History

Walkerton, Ontario – May 2000 

  • Several people died as a result of water contamination by e-coli
  • Ontario introduced new water laws in 2010 regarding water efficiency standards and water infrastructure (water TAP program)
  • BC brought into effect the Drinking Water Protection Act May 16th 2003
  • BC Drinking Water Protection Regulator was amended in BC, March 20th 2013
  • After the amendment, Rob Fleming became our Interior Health Representation/Enforcement Officer.
  • What the Act basically did was change us from a small water system to a medium/large system by changing from how many hook ups we service to how many people we service
  • Because of this change, we immediately became non-compliant in several regards: 
  • 1. Chlorination. Not staying in reservoir long enough; not enough contact because of way system was made.
  • 2. Well’s age were suspect. Rob Fleming had just come from a town very similar to ours where a well had failed. It cost the system over $100,000 to drill another. Hence the contingency fund he wants put aside. The indomitable Ms. Throap stated, we have $55,000 put in contingency.
  • 3. Aging Infrastructure in a few places, although on a Par for Par comparison, our in ground infrastructure is as good as better than the City of Revelstoke
  • 4. Well contamination possibility by ground water. The reason for last year’s barrage of tests.
  • 5. Small water operator was Sam LeRose. Medium/large water operator – No One. They want a permanent water operator put in place – costs money. Approximately $80,000 per year per operator. They want two. 
  • Since meeting with the City of Revelstoke and Rob Fleming, we have experienced two fires in the Big Eddy. One at a commercial building (Chabot) and one at a residence (1800 block Illnisky Rd.)
  • After talking to Fire Chief Rob Girard, we were informed that pressure and flows were INADEQUATE for commercial and a Tender carrying water was employed to bring water over from the city side to maintain sufficient flows.
  • Tests show the average flow to be 66 Litres per second. Required to be 150 litres per second. Commercial Fire Protection, Province of B.C. and Revelstoke.

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