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Barriere’s new well is on track and expected to have plenty of water

“We want to make sure we maximize the quality and quantity of water,” says CAO

This reporter interviewed District of Barriere CAO Bob Payette and Utilities Manager Ian Crosson recently in regards to the status of the new Spruce Crescent DW3 well currently being installed for the municipality, both say the project is coming along nicely.

“We’re at the post now,” said Payette, “Over the next couple of months we are going to be looking at the detailed design of the completion of the well and the tie in to the system. We are going to do those two items concurrently over the next couple of months, and hopefully the end result will be speeding up the process to get the well online.”

What does the timeline look like for having the new well ready to hook into the system?

“Initially we thought we might be shooting for the end of summer, but we’ve never actually set a time frame,” said the CAO. “I’m really hesitant to give a time-line on this well because our main objective here is to get it done right, not to get it done on time. We did run into some glitches with the drill process of the well and how deep it went, but we are making sure that we get it right when we go to the final design of the well.”

Will the new well have sufficient water to serve the community?

“We definitely have hit water, and we’re really excited about how much water we’ve hit,” said Payette, “Now we just want to make sure the actual design of the well maximizes the quantity and quality of that water. That’s going to take a little bit more time, probably more than we were anticipating, but it’s time well spent to get it right. We don’t want to rush things. We want to make sure it’s done to the best quality possible.”

Is the quantity of water from DW3 look to be more than the initial guesstimate was?

“We were trying to match the current well that’s there (DW2), and we think we have done that,” said the CAO.

Payette added that the municipality has submitted a grant application to the province for $3.5 million to complete a long term water plan that will take the district water system many years into the future. If approved, the grant will include an additional well and water treatment.

In the interim. the current new well under construction, PW3, “will be able to service the district quite efficiently and get us through the next number of years.”

He says at this time the municipality is still on track with their plan and are confident that they will have potable water for a long time.

What about the discolouration of the water that has been reported over the past few weeks by residents on the current system?

“When we initiated the drilling of this new well in Spruce Crescent we knew the drilling would cause some disruption in the aquifer in the ground which would effect DW2 which is also in Spruce Crescent. At that time we made the decision to take DW2 off line during this development process, so that operations didn’t have to deal with that nightmare. So we went to the Bradford PW1 water source at that point to service the town. We all know that the Bradford wells are highly mineralized and generically over the last two or three years, whenever that source is running we see that iced tea water throughout the system,” said the CAO, “The point we are at now is we have had a discussion with the consultants and with the hydro-geologist, and the further investigative work that they are going to be doing here in the next month will not have an effect like the development did on the DW2 well source.”

“We are now going back to using the DW2 well,” added Ian Crosson.

Will you have to go back to PW1 again while working to complete the DW3 project?

“If further work is being done we will basically just shut DW2 off for the eight to 12 hours that is required, and then let the reservoir do the work to service the town,” advised Crosson, “Then when the work is complete, we’ll just fire that well (DW2) back up and top up the reservoir.”

He added that putting a well back on line requires more than just turning a switch.

“To get that well back on line I have to prove the health samples,” said Crosson, “I have to take two bacteriological samples consecutively in 24 hours. Those samples then go to the lab for analysis. They check them, and then send the reports back and say yes, there’s no coliforms or bacteria that is harmful, and at that point I can then put that well back on line. All of that work has been completed and the health samples have come back clean, so we are now back using DW2 as of the beginning of this week.”

Crosson notes that the change over in wells will most likely create “a bit of havoc” again for water users.

“All that water as it moves through the pipes, if its not moving at a high velocity and it’s kind of just sitting in there, and that precipitate (that causes the discoloured water) falls out and lines the bottom of the pipe, then when we change the hydraulics of the system, or the flow velocity through those pipes, we stir that up.”

Crosson added due to the starting up of the DW2 well earlier this week utilities plan to do some flushing throughout the system in strategic locations around the town by “opening a fire hydrant to get that high velocity going through there to scour that precipitate junk out of the system.”

“We thank the residents for bearing with us during this time,” added Crosson, “This is not something that we can rush, and even though the brown water that has been out there for the last couple of months has been undesirable, we look at this as short term pain for long term gain. It sucks right now for a couple of months, but ideally if we can get through this, and hopefully get this grant, then within a couple of years we’re going to have a source, a volume supply, and have the treatment capacity to provide clean and clear water.”

Is the precipitate that causes the brown or ‘iced tea’ coloured water a health risk in anyway for consumers?

“Any water that I put out from the wells or the water treatment plant must meet certain requirements as dictated by Interior

Health,” explained Crosson, “There is a standard set of federal guidelines that apply. If any water ever left that water treatment plant that was deemed unsafe I would shut it off immediately, I would not put that water into the system. As we know from Walkerton, if you don’t do your job and you kill people you end up going to jail, and that’s the last place I need to be.

“The brown water is aesthetically unpleasing but it does meet all the requirements, but there is that discolouration. I speak with our Interior Health inspector weekly, and as this process is ongoing she gets every bit of information that I get, she sees all of our test results, we communicate, we follow the proper guidelines, and if there are any questionable items I reach out to her immediately.”

The town’s water system (the distribution, or the pipes in the ground) is tested daily by the municipality and is also sent weekly to the lab. The source water (the well) gets a full analysis annually.

Crosson also noted there are a few properties within the municipality that have their own wells which are not connected to the municipal distribution system.

How long is the town’s water distribution system?

“We provide 25 kilometres of water main in Barriere,” said Crosson, “If you were to link it all in a straight line it’s about half way to Kamloops.”

What are the furthest points of the water distribution system within the municipality?

The furthest point to the south is the Esso Station, to the north it is the Dunn Lake Road / Lodgepole Road area, and the furthest west is the Woodco area in the Barriere Industrial Park. The system also services Dunsmuir Road and Power Road, and the heart of the town, including Oriole and Greentree subdivisions.

“When you look at the age of that water main, and the cost of it now with the pandemic, the pipe has actually gone up 25 per cent,” said Crosson, “At this point, to replace or rehab the lines you would be talking close to a million dollars a kilometre.”

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