The site of the former Merklin water tower is earmarked for one of two new water treatment plants to reduce arsenic and manganese levels in White Rock water.

Plans for White Rock water treatment begin to flow

Residents question whether city is competent to manage utility

White Rock council Monday night approved an initial amendment to the city’s financial plan to fund a program of water infrastructure upgrades – which will include construction of two plants to treat and reduce the arsenic and manganese content of city water within the next three years.

A motion to adopt the necessary borrowing bylaw was carried without discussion, in spite of comments from members of the public at a meeting – earlier that afternoon – who called into question the city’s competence in both acquiring and administering its water utility.

The special meeting was convened to provide public input on the program of financial-plan amendments, which financial services director Sandra Kurylo said is required to start the process of long-term borrowing for the projects – now projected at more than $14 million, and expected to be complete in 2019.

Of this, just over $9 million is expected to be paid from grants, including the federal New Building Canada Fund.

Residents, however, expressed distrust of the city’s handling of water matters, including water safety, whether or not options of connecting to other sources – including the City of Surrey and Metro Vancouver systems – had been fully explored, and whether the city had fully understood deficiencies in the current infrastructure when it entered into negotiations to buy the utility from Epcor last year.

Dorothy Bower said that city fire hydrants are not sufficient for ‘fire flows’ and queried deferring the upgrading of water mains on Marine Drive until 2017, noting that the need had been identified in 2013 and that taxpayers had already been paying for the work.

“The water mains on Marine Drive have ruptured a number of times,” she said.

“You’re exposing the city to liability,” she added, saying that fire-flow estimates are predicated on a city that had once consisted of individual cottages – not the larger homes that are prevalent today.

Engineering manager Greg St. Louis responded that the mains are in the 2014-17 master plan, and that pushing the upgrade back to 2017 still falls within the parameters of the plan.

Bower also questioned the safety of White Rock wells from contamination since they are only buffered by gravel and sand.

Scott Kristjanson said the timing of the 4 p.m. meeting had in impact on the community’s opportunity to ask questions.

He said that waiting for treatment of arsenic and manganese content until 2019 was “an unacceptable delay.”

“Instead of spending $14 million, why aren’t we turning on the taps to Surrey?” he asked.

He said that discussions he has had with Fraser Health officials indicated a preference for White Rock to be connected to the Metro Vancouver system.

“We need to budget to get out of the situation immediately.”

Fiona MacDermid also expressed concern on the health of the water, noting the Walkerton, Ont. E. coli outbreak of 2000.

“We need something done quickly – let’s not wait for a disaster to strike our water system in White Rock.”

Mike Burda wondered why citizens had not been informed years ago that there was arsenic and manganese content in the water.

Roderick Louis expressed doubts about St. Louis’ estimates that connecting to Metro Vancouver water through Surrey would require twinning of pipes and a new pumping station, asking that the city study the actual costs.

Dennis Lypka questioned fluctuations in city estimates for the cost of the infrastructure upgrades.


“Is council satisfied that this $14.2 million number is now pinned down and won’t runaway higher yet again due to various delays, cost over-runs, misestimates and other matters of that sort?”



Just Posted

VIDEO: Surrey Vaisakhi Parade floods Newton streets

Hundreds of thousands of people attended the annual event

Setting the stage for emerging performers

Variety fundraiser and ongoing open-mics showcase local talent

VAISAKHI EXPLAINED: Founding of the Khalsa was a seminal event in Sikh history

There are five K’s – articles of faith – worn by baptized Sikhs

Four Surrey students head to New Brunswick for Canada-wide science fair

Three projects move to nationals following regional fair at KPU

Man ‘seriously’ injured in crash after driving wrong way on Highway 17: Surrey RCMP

Police say the sedan hit a transport truck, then another car

Dashcam captures close call between minivan, taxi at busy Vancouver intersection

To make the footage more nerve-wracking, a pedestrian can be seen standing at the corner

Easter Sunday blasts kill at least 207 in Sri Lanka

Bodies of at least 27 foreigners were recovered

VIDEO: Fan support almost deafening as Giants take Game 2 in finals

Vancouver G-Men cap comeback with thrilling third period to beat Spokane 4-2 on home ice in Langley

Waste not: Kootenay brewery leftovers feed the local food chain

Spent grains from the Trail Beer Refinery are donated to local farmers and growers, none go to waste

Deck collapses in Langley during celebration, 35 people injured

Emergency responders rushed to the Langley home

B.C. mom wages battle to get back four kids taken from her in Egypt

Sara Lessing of Mission has help from Abbotsford law firm

VIDEO: Fire guts Peachland home

Crews are still on scene pumping water onto the blaze in the Okanagan neighbourhood

$6K raised in one day’s time for family of woman gunned down in Penticton

GoFundMe launched for family of Darlene Knippelberg, to pay for funeral costs and other expenses

B.C. mountain biker sent home from hospital twice, despite broken vertebrae

Released in Maple Ridge to go home with three fractured vertebrae

Most Read

l -->