Special Council Meeting held May 13 in Barriere regarding current water situation

A Special Council Meeting of the District of Barriere Municipal Council was held at municipal hall on May 13, at 5:15 p.m regarding the current water situation within the community and the status of the developed and undeveloped wells.

There was only a handful of area residents in attendance at the meeting, which was unfortunate given the fact that many have been voicing their displeasure regarding the current aesthetic quality of the water currently coming from the municipal water system, and the watering restrictions that are in place. It was mentioned that perhaps the lack of citizen attendance was the fact the Notice of Meeting was posted on the District’s website as soon as the meeting had been called for, which was Friday, May 10. There was no other method of notification given.

The meeting opened with a chronological history of the Barriere water system presented by CAO Colleen Hannigan, with input from Mayor Ward Stamer and Doug Borrill, the Senior Water Treatment Specialist for the District. The overview went from 196, when the water utility was connected for the community, and continued until today. The history provided a clear understanding of how Barriere water is provided, the wells that have been used, those discontinued, and the new wells coming on line.

There was an informative explanation given regarding the delay in repairing the pressure reducing valve that failed, and the associated flow meter, which resulted in the shutdown of Deep Well #2 on Feb. 19, 2019. The report stated, “Due to the fact they are both located in a confined space vault, it has been identified that the safety feature around isolating this vault is absent, as simply shutting down valves on either side of the vault is no longer considered safe isolation.”

As a result, repairs to the actual vault had to be done first and all in accordance with Interior Health and WorkSafe BC. This involved permit issuing and engineering, which has all taken time to accomplish. The Interior Health approval to construct permit from Mar. 4, required a six to eight week process.

The District also presented that the time frame of getting the wells involved online and fully functional was also delayed by other new regulations and requirements that have all come in to play.

On Apr. 15, Water Restriction notices were circulated to the community advising the restriction will remain until the Spruce Crescent Deep Well is repaired and back on line. It was reported that as of May 8, PW3 (Production Well 3) was brought back on line slowly and is currently being monitored as it is brought up to full production. Since then PW1 is also now back on line and being brought slowly up to production levels.

Burrows noted that to bring a well up to full production expectations it must be done over a number of weeks due to the water being taken from an underground water source (aquifer). He stated that the goal of 500 gallons a minute has to be reached by starting to take 120 gallons a minute for the first week, then 150, then 200, etcetera.

“It will take six weeks to two months before PW1 and PW3 are at full capacity,” said Burrows. He also noted that as soon as Deep Well#2 is repaired they will do a major flush of the water pipe system.

“Then we should be able to get it back online in 10 days to two weeks,” said Burrows.

Councilor Fortin asked about the turning on of the splash pad system this past week, saying “this action has caused animosity” within the community because the community is on water restrictions.”

The CAO stated, “We turned it on as we knew it was going to be 28° to 30°C degrees over the weekend, and we restricted the flow to two to three gallons a minute on each of the features.”

Burrows noted, “On the main stream of life that’s not going to break the bank.”

It was also noted that the water in the splash pad only runs when the fixtures are being used.

After further discussion a motion was made to turn off the splash pad system until the current water restriction is alleviated.

Councilor Kibble asked about the current quality of the water and the restrictions.

“What happens next and how long is this going to go on for,” said Kibble, “When will Deep Well #2 be back online?”

“We expect by the week of the 22nd to 24th we will have enough water to do a flush,” said Burrows, noting that a strong flush of all the lines should clear out the iron and manganese that is causing the colour problem in the water.

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