Sunday, December 16, 2018

Mayor's update through Facebook offers up further details on City's water issues

Those looking for a wider explanation of the current Boil Water advisory for the city will find the latest update on the situation through Mayor Lee Brain's political Facebook page, which currently features an extensive review of both the requirements of the Boil Water Order and some background as to how the situation evolved.

The relay of Information was posted on Saturday afternoon and has the Mayor pointing towards the environment as the cause of the water woes, noting how the dry summer followed by a recent storm surge event resulted in increased debris to enter the water supply system.

Unfortunately, this is a result of mother nature. A dry summer followed by a recent storm surge event resulted in increased debris in the water supply. It is anticipated that the notice will be in effect for at least a week. There is no need to be alarmed as this is not an uncommon situation, and occurs semi-frequently in other communities. The last time this happened in Prince Rupert was roughly 10 years ago.

Mr. Brain further explains how the City tests water according to a schedule mandated by Northern Health and that there are regular engagements with Northern Health officials to ensure to the quality and supply of the city's water.

The Mayor also provides some background on a recent change as to how the city has drawn the water for use by city residents, which is using the secondary water source of Shawatlans Lake, while work continues on the City's water infrastructure program and the Woodworth Dam rebuild.

As a result of these ongoing projects, the City is currently pumping from our secondary source at Shawatlan Lake during upgrades to our dam and surrounding infrastructure, which is at a lower elevation and experiences more run off impacts. 

Over the last year or so, this has impacted the aesthetic quality of the water (how the water looks), which will be improved by planned upgrades.

Another reason is due to our upgrades we are doing to our water supply which has resulted in us pulling from our secondary source at Shawatlan lake (a lower area than our primary source) while we replace water infrastructure - including the 100 year old dam at Woodworth lake (our primary source). 

This is also something that is contributing to discolouration. The construction of the dam gets underway in 2019 and is estimated to take about a year. In addition, we have also applied for grant funds to improve water treatment. Things are on the up overall, but in the meantime we do have to rely on our secondary supply.

As well as the look at the current work underway on the city's second phase of the Woodoworth Dam project the Mayor observes that the city is currently seeking funding for longer range plans towards further work on the city's water system.

The Facebook update also lists a number of Frequently Asked Questions related to everyday household uses of water from the use of coffee makers and dishwashers to bathing.

Those notes come from Northern Health and can be reviewed below:
(click to enlarge)

The Mayor also takes the opportunity in his message to remind residents of the need to be prepared around the house for such types of emergencies, noting that it's wise to have three days supplies on hand at all times.

Unfortunately we can't always control what nature does, but we can control how we are prepared and respond to such events. We appreciate everyone's patience and understanding in this matter.

As well, the Mayor reminds residents to download the city's mobile device alert system,  which last provided an update to the public on Friday with the original notice to Boil Water.

The full report on the situation from the Mayor can be reviewed here.

The information flow from the city is welcome, though unless you are a follower of the Mayor's Facebook page you would not have been aware that such expansive instructions and background details had been made available.

The City's website does not offer any indication that the Mayor's update is available, nor does the mobile app that the Mayor suggests we download for use.

The City's twitter feed also does not direct residents to the Mayor's updated notes, though that particular message system is one that is rarely used by city staff or council members.

The City of Prince Rupert Facebook page does include a shortened version of the main questions related to a Boil Water advisory it is an update that was also shared by the City's Recreation Department page.

The Mayor's Facebook page musings have however offered up the chance for residents to weigh in with some of their concerns on the situation

A number call attention to the potential for price gouging for bottled water, others wonder if free water is going to be made available for Seniors, Elders and those of limited means or with health risks.

On the topic of testing the water, a number of those weighing in with comments call for more frequent testing of the water and inquire as to what the current schedule for water testing with the city is.

So far there is no indication from the City as to when they anticipate being able to end the Boil Water Notice for the community.

You can follow the path of the current situation from out two previous items found below:

Prince Rupert's water woes gain attention across British Columbia
Boil Water Notice in effect in Prince Rupert

For more items of note related to Civic issues see our archive page here.

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