A number of issues came up at a Nov. 8 public meeting at the 108 Mile Community Hall during the discussions on the Boil Water Notice (BWN) announcement for the 103 Mile Water System that was put in place on Oct. 19.
IH environmental health officer Kimberly Porter provided information for the meeting attendees.
She said the BWN will remain in place until action is taken to reduce risk, and treatment is installed.
An engineer’s study found the wells to be at risk of containing pathogens, so work has to be done to reduce the risk.
Cariboo Regional District (CRD) Environmental Services manager Peter Hughes outlined the problems, the necessary changes that needed to be done and the funding sources.
Earlier this week, CRD chair and Electoral Area G Director Al Richmond said the well heads are not up to standard and they are not sealed properly, so effluent sewage, rain water can run down outside of the well casing and into the aquifer and contaminates the wells.
“You have septic tanks within 30 metres and it’s hard to know what rolled across the surface of the water.
“You can see in the compartments, which the wells are in, they had water rolling in and they have drilled holes through the floor and there’s a drain and the water goes into the ground.”
Richmond notes the current system was built 40 years ago and some standards have changed.
This is why the wells and the pump house have to be replaced and brought up to standard.
The CRD took over the former private water system from Saunders Enterprises after Feb. 10 when the board of directors agreed to the bylaws and service agreement.
Richmond said the private owner wanted the CRD to take over the water system “because she didn’t want it and couldn’t sell it” and the area residents signed a petition in favour of the regional taking over the system and agreed to paying $300 water user fees annually and parcel taxes.
He added the CRD knew the problems were there before it took over the system and met with the residents in September 2015.
“That’s why we told the residents we would have to drill new wells and put in a new pump house because they didn’t meet the current standard.
“Because they’re so old, the experts told us it’s not worth fixing those wells as we’re better off drilling new wells. Then you know you have new screens and casing.”
Richmond noted that most private owners are getting out of the business because the standards are becoming tougher and it’s more expensive to meet the regulations.
The CRD is going forward with the necessary changes and has applied for a grant from the Canada-British Columbia Clean Water and Wastewater Fund.
The money can be used for drinking water, wastewater and storm water infrastructure projects.
The cost breakdown is 50 per cent from the federal government, 33 per cent from the province and 17 per cent from the local government (CRD).
If the grant application is successful, it would reduce borrowing from $361,000 to $90,000.
Richmond said they don’t expect to hear back regarding the grant application for some time.
However, he added they are going to go ahead with the drilling as soon as they can find a driller who can get started on the project.
The CRD would also have to hire a hydrogeologist to oversee the project to make sure everything is being done correctly.
Richmond said the goal is to get everything done as quickly as possible.
“If a hydrogeologist and well driller were available next week, we would start drilling.”
He added they would try to locate it away from the septic fields, but there are some restrictions to doing that.
Once the wells are drilled, they would be sealed properly, he said, adding then they would start doing testing to prove wells are running clean water.
“If we get clear water readings, we would approach Interior Health to ask them to lift the Boil Water Notice (BWN).”
Having that happen would certainly relieve the problems subdivision residents are dealing with now with the BWN.
Some are anxious because they have young children.
Others are upset about the added expense of having to purchase bottled water.
Most are miffed about the hassle of having to boil water for all of the common-day practices most people do – washing dishes, brushing teeth and rinsing fruit and vegetables.