Barriere water system still flowing brown

No relief expected for angry residents until early May

Barriere resident Teresa McCastle says she is fed up with the water coming out of the pipes in her home.

“This is absolutely beyond ridiculous and getting old really fast,” an angry McCastle told the Star/Journal on Apr. 14, “I phoned the District of Barriere water number today and was told that the main well is down and won’t be back up operating until sometime in May. I was also told that the new wells in Bradford Park have a lot of iron in them and water is tested weekly and is safe too drink. I told him I will not drink it even though we still have too pay for this brown water. Maybe the District should be bringing in water for the town until they figure out how to get us all clean drinking water.”

The discoloured water was first noticed in March, when residents of Barriere who are on the municipal water system expressed their concern and frustration regarding the quality of the discoloured water coming out of their taps. At that time this newspaper asked the municipality to explain what was happening and what could be done to rectify the situation.

“A malfunctioning pressure relief valve (PRV) on Feb. 8, resulted in damage to adjacent equipment in a below ground vault on Spruce Crescent, and a shutdown of our main deep well on Spruce Crescent was necessary,” told the CAO during that interview, “There is a minimum six week time frame to replace this equipment and bring that well back on line to share pumping duties.”

She also noted that one of the new wells at Bradford Park had been carefully brought up to speed to take over from the main Spruce Crescent well to supply water into the system, saying that residents experiencing off-coloured water with white and/or iron-coloured flecks is similar to the off-coloured water that may occur temporarily during hydrant flushing due to the change in the physical location of the wells pumping into the system.

“This has caused the water to run in the opposite direction in some areas, resulting in those lines being flushed of any mineral build up that may have been accumulating in the lines for years,” concluded Hannigan while reassuring residents that the water was safe to drink and the discolouration would be temporary.

However, since then residents have continued to report “dirty” water coming out of their taps, not just complaining directly to the District office, but also most recently on an active Facebook posting with numerous complaints about the dark discoloration many are experiencing.

McCastle says she cannot understand why residents are having to pay for something they cannot use.

“I washed white sheets in my washing machine and they came out brown, and now I can’t get that out of them. I’m not going to drink it, and you can’t cook with it, and you don’t want it in your hot water tank. We should not have to pay for this so called ‘brown drinking water’,” said McCastle. She also noted that residents are buying clean drinking water because they can’t use what is coming out of their taps.

On the morning of Monday, Apr. 15, District of Bariere CAO Colleen Hannigan put out a press release to the community noting by the end of the first week of May the system should be switched over to the repaired well and the water will begin to clear and return to normal clarity.

“We have had a lot of calls, social media chatter and office visits since the water took a turn for the worse as far as being stirred up again on Saturday,” said Hannigan, “It’s a frustrating situation for sure that we are working on to get sorted out. Everyone on District water is on the same system but the sediments and colouring are traveling about since it’s a series of loops of different sizes and ages and every time a large quantity of water is taken from the system it has the potential to change the direction the water is flowing in the pipes which results in increased turbidity.

“One of the new wells in Bradford Park is providing 100 per cent of the water right now, but it doesn’t have the volume of water per minute the older one does, so we cannot entertain flushing the entire system at this point.”

Hannigan went on to ask residents to be patient, saying, “The repairs are underway but complex (involving contractors, engineers, Interior Health approvals) and will not be complete until into the first week or so of May. It is purely aesthetic and extremely annoying, but it is not unsafe to consume.”

McCastle said she definitely plans on attending the Apr. 15, regular Council Meeting along with a number of other residents who will join her in voicing their displeasure with the situation.

Updated

McCastle reported back to the Star/Journal on Apr. 16 that she had attended the Apr. 15, regular Council Meeting along with a number of other residents who wanted to voice their displeasure with the situation.“The council meeting went well,” said McCastle, “ We got some answers, but now instead of the week of May 1, the Spruce Crescent well might not be up and running until mid May, which again is conflicting information.”

She says residents are hopeful they will not have anymore issues with water turbidity.

“However, if there is another fire and the fire department have too fill their tanker trucks it will be dirty again,” said McCastle.

As of Tuesday, Apr. 16, Barriere Council has imposed Stage 2 water restrictions immediately as per Water Restriction Bylaw No. 39 until the Spruce Crescent deep well is back on line. Watering is limited to even number property addresses on even numbered days, and odd number addresses on odd numbered days. During Stage 2, residents may not use a sprinkler or irrigation system to water a lawn, garden, trees, or shrubs; wash driveways, sidewalks, parking lots or exterior building surfaces. Residents can water trees, shrubs, flowers and vegetables if watering is done by hand-held container or a hose equipped with a shut-off nozzle but only during the prescribed Stage 1 watering hours and days; water newly planted trees, shrubs, flowers and vegetables if watering is done by hand-held container or a hose equipped with a shut-off nozzle during installation and for the following 24 hours; wash a vehicle with water using a hand-held container or hose equipped with a shut-off nozzle and at commercial car washes; or top up or add to a swimming pool, wading pool, hot tub, garden pond or decorative fountain.

Check the District of Barriere website for updates before you water: www.barriere.ca

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