Resident Roderick Louis is approached and eventually escorted out by a White Rock RCMP officer

UBC-based group to advise White Rock on water

White Rock will spend $100,000 to study water treatment options, council decided Monday, after police helped remove a council critic.

The City of White Rock will spend $100,000 to study water treatment options, civic politicians decided Monday, hours after water-quality concerns boiled over at city hall and prompted a police response.

White Rock is entering a partnership with RES’EAU-WaterNET, a University of B.C. organization that develops technologies for clean drinking water to rural communities. RES’EAU is being tasked with evaluating water-treatment options for a city grappling with arsenic and manganese in its well water.

“There are contaminants, such as arsenic and manganese, that are around the limits of the drinking-water guideline. The City of White Rock needs to address this to at least assure the public the water is safe,” Madjid Mohseni, a UBC professor and member of RES’EAU-WaterNET, told council.

Mayor Wayne Baldwin said RES’EAU taps into a network of Canadian university experts, and is less expensive than hiring an independent consultant. City staff noted the city’s $100,000 payment will grow to a $400,000 investment, thanks to federal funding.

White Rock is planning to build two water-treatment plants to reduce arsenic and manganese in the city’s water supply. The plants are projected to cost more than $14 million, with just over $9 million to be paid by grants, including the federal New Building Canada Fund.

Some residents remain critical of the city’s handling of water-quality issues, which bubbled to the top of council’s agenda at a special afternoon meeting Monday.

The meeting gave residents a chance to offer comments and ask questions concerning the 2015 annual report and its addition of council priorities – “inadvertently missed” earlier, according to staff.

Council first received the annual report June 27, only to be lambasted by critics who complained residents weren’t given a chance to ask questions, per the Community Charter.

Monday was their chance. Four spoke – all with water on their minds, following the city’s purchase of its water utility from Epcor last fall for a yet-to-be-determined price.

Roderick Louis pressed council on why the report did not mention dangers of arsenic and manganese.

“Why doesn’t the city include any information in its amended report that arsenic is a health risk and manganese is believed to be a potential one – so the public knows why these plants are being built?”

Baldwin replied: “Is there a doubt that arsenic is a health risk?”

City staff confirmed the city has a well that “occasionally” has water measured with levels of arsenic that exceed Health Canada’s maximum allowable level.

“We have a well that does occasionally bump over that, but we don’t pump straight from that particular well straight into the distribution system. It goes into our reservoir. It’s diluted with other water from other wells that are below the Canadian drinking-water guidelines,” Dan Bottrill, chief administrative officer for White Rock, said.

The response didn’t satisfy Louis, who called for White Rock to develop a public education program.

“Why don’t you tell the public that the water they’re getting is a health risk?” he said.

Baldwin, who warned a standing Louis to “control himself” following an earlier outburst from the gallery, said there is adequate information out there.

“We maintain that we meet the Canadian drinking water standards, and that the work that is being undertaken, and completed by 2019, will reduce our drinking-water limits to far below the required standards,” he said.

Louis refused to sit when asked by the mayor. After a five-minute recess, Louis was formally expelled from the meeting, but refused to leave – until two RCMP officers entered and escorted him out.

In a complaint email to RCMP Tuesday, Louis said his ejection was “politically motivated.”

A similar scene unfolded in council chambers one year ago, when RCMP were called to remove a resident, former councillor Margaret Woods, who spoke at a public hearing. In that case, police officers entered council chambers, but did not remove Woods. The meeting proceeded after a 30-minute delay.

Just Posted

VIDEO: Dramatic fire destroys Surrey home

A freelancer at the scene said occupants made it out of the Fraser Heights house safely

Ambulance’s 22-minute response time concerns White Rock man

Ambulance arrives 22 minutes after call for service

World Water Day celebrated in South Surrey

City of White Rock manager of utilities Saad Jasim to give a presentation on water Monday

Delta asking for joint provincial-federal review of ‘cashless casinos’

Call for system to prevent money laundering comes as construction is set to begin on Ladner casino

Delta needs education about racism, says new committee

Deltassist’s new Organizing Against Racism and Hate committee held a pair of forums last week

Mueller finds no Trump collusion, leaves obstruction open

But while Mueller fully ruled out criminal collusion, he was more circumspect on presidential obstruction of justice

Edmonton judge rules Omar Khadr’s sentence has expired

Eight-year sentence imposed in 2010 would have ended last October had Khadr remained in custody

5 to start your day

Trudeau boosts Tamara Taggart, a doctor accessed records of a woman pregnant with his baby, and more

Woman wants Tofino to get a nude beach

“They may enjoy a surf and then walk around naked and just be free.”

New Coast Guard ship crashes into breakwater in Victoria

‘It is fairly unprecedented that it would happen’

Ice climbers scale Canada’s tallest waterfall on Vancouver Island

Ice climbers Chris Jensen, Will Gadd and Peter Hoang made history

Sparks fly as SUV speeds wrong way down Highway 1 trying to flee RCMP

Captured on video, the vehicle headed westbound against oncoming traffic before crashing

Fundraising campaign launched for man caught in SilverStar avalanche

In only two days, the GoFundMe surpassed its $15,000 goal

B.C. doctor fined $5,000 for accessing records of woman pregnant with his child

Doctor admits to accessing records of the woman carrying his child

Most Read

l -->