White Rock operations staff say there are no plans to 'double up' arsenic and managanese treatment plants at the Oxford reservoir site

White Rock operations staff say there are no plans to 'double up' arsenic and managanese treatment plants at the Oxford reservoir site

Study needed before White Rock water future clear

An open house to update residents on plans for the city's water utility has been set for March 22.

There are no immediate answers – just more study on the horizon – when it comes to White Rock water-quality issues.

It now appears that it will be at least March before White Rock will have the information to decide what technology will be used for treatment efforts and what form further infrastructure improvements will take with the city-owned water utility.

The city is currently engaged in continuing study of what technology can best effect arsenic and manganese removal, in partnership with  RES’EAU-WaterNET, a federally funded non-profit research network based out of UBC. The study will continue through March, at least, according to information provided at the city’s December water-quality open house.

City communications manager Farnaz Farrokhi told Peace Arch News that, according to city operations staff, the study will determine the next steps taken and what form treatment plants should take.

According to Farrokhi, operations staff deny rumours circulating among some council critics that completion of the new chlorination plant and reservoir at the Merklin site will leave no room for the proposed arsenic and manganese treatment plant there.

While this has given rise to theories that this would result in a ‘doubling-up’ of arsenic and manganese treatment facilities at Oxford – leading to further loss of trees plus installation of a costly piping system connecting the Oxford and Merklin sites – Farrokhi said operations officials unequivocally deny that such work is contemplated.

Operations staff response is that there has been no rethink of existing treatment plant plans at both sites, Farrokhi said.

“We are still in the early stages of evaluation of further treatment and no revisions have been made,” she said.

Meanwhile, residents who complained last year of water discoloration and residue say they have still only been provided with guesses to explain it.

Theories have included that it could be a result of aging infrastructure in buildings, or the reaction of naturally occurring chemicals with chlorination, which began to be phased in last fall – or even the city’s periodic flushing of watermains.

Bev McLaughlin, who was among residents complaining of discoloration and residue since October, said the city still “hasn’t come up with any answers” for the cause of such incidents, which were continuing sporadically at her Blackwood Street condo as of last week.

McLauglin said she had complained repeatedly to the city about the water quality, without response – until she contacted PAN.

“At the height of this I did get a call from (the utilities manager), who said that they were only using (a small amount) of chlorine in the water and they were trying to run tests,” she said. “He offered to test the water again, but I said no thanks.”

She added that she and neighbours had already paid for two tests of their water, one of which had shown impurities, while the other registered the water as ‘normal’.

According to the My Water webpage at the city’s website, an open house on city water-quality issues is planned for Wednesday, March 22 – designated United Nations’ World Water Day.