End of boil-water advisory for Robson not good news for all
Not all Robson/Raspberry residents are delighted to see an almost-two-decades-long boil-water advisory finally lifted and a $3.2-million water treatment facility in place.
The back story is that, 18 years ago, the Interior Health Authority found E.Coli in Robson/Raspberry water samples and levied the boil water advisory, according to Robson/Raspberry Improvement District President Anne White.
“Our water comes from Pass Creek, so it’s surface water,” she said, explaining there were issues of livestock and wildlife accessing the creek upstream. “A lot of our farmers don’t allow their cattle or horses in the stream anymore, but there is still the wildlife.”
All that, however, is in the past, now.
“Now we have a complete water treatment system, as mandated by the Drinking Water Protection Act and enforced by IHA,” White said, adding they had little choice but to implement same. “A community that refuses to comply with treatment as they have laid it out can be subject to daily fines and even jail time.”
White would likely have been the one volunteered for said prison stint, as the only retired member of the improvement district, so she was particularly motivated to see the project through.
“We had to increase taxes by about 70 per cent, and we ended up borrowing $3.2 million over a 20-year period,” she said, adding they now have ponds from which water is taken, filtered, exposed to ultraviolet cleaning, chlorinated, and put into a holding tank/reservoir from whence it is distributed – and the boil-water advisory is no more.
“It still feels a bit weird – I have to remind myself that it’s okay (to get water directly from the tap),” she said. “But it’s wonderful.”
Not everyone is so pleased, though.
Mark Morris, resident and owner of Riverside Hair and Body Care in Robson, said he’s frustrated by the whole thing for a variety of reasons, most particularly with the Regional District of Central Kootenay.
“They take our tax money and are supposed to provide us with two things: water and waste removal. We pay outrageous amounts here for both,” he said. “We pay taxes and don’t get anything in return. I tried to appeal my taxes on that, but there’s (no mechanism by which to) appeal government theft.”
Morris grew up in Robson and returned three years ago to open his business, and having lived in Mexico for part of his absence leaves him feeling that having to boil water isn’t a big deal at all, he said.
“Before, we didn’t have water restrictions at all – and we had lush gardens and orchards and greenery,” he said. “Now it’s turning into a dead zone for lack of water – with all that water flowing by right in front of us. We have permanent, 365-days-a-year water restrictions now, because the water is treated.”
Morris underscored that his issue wasn’t with the Robson/Raspberry Improvement District, but rather with what he sees as dictatorial higher levels of government.