Letter to the Editor: PWPA says our water is a ‘source for concern’

Dear Editor,

Peachlanders have experienced some technical issues with their new water treatment plant (WTP). Watermain breaks and a couple of glitches caused a loss of water for residents in some neighbourhoods the past couple of months.

It’s a not so gentle reminder of what life without access to freshwater could be like.  A $2.5 M upgrade is already in the works; continued demand for water comes at a price.

Having clean water at our taps is just one of three facets of municipal water delivery. The other two factors besides quality, are the amount of available water (quantity), along with consistent, reliable supply (timing of flow).

Having clean water presumes you have a source of water. It might be a lake, aquifer, river, or an area of land called a watershed. To ensure you have enough water, and that you get water when you want it, your water source must be secure and protected.

Fortunately, the District of Peachland understands the need for clean drinking water, and the need to protect the waters’ source.  The district lobbied for an upgraded WTP to deal with town’s persistent water runoff issues, the result of watershed activities including clear-cut logging.  Boil water advisories had been a regular occurrence until the WTP came online. The need for the WTP is a direct symptom of an unsecured source that is negatively impacted by a myriad of activities.

The District was also the first in BC contact the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development about this.  In 2019, council requested a “pause” on industrial activities in the watershed so an analysis of the cumulative effects on source water be conducted.  Bewilderingly, Peachland is still waiting for the Ministry’s response, but in the meantime has formed the Healthy Watershed Committee and a Technical Advisory Committee to increase water awareness.

The recent announcement by the BC government of the development of a Watershed Security Strategy and Fund may aid future water concerns.  The province is looking to fund watershed remediation, restoration and education. Will this initiative be enough to secure our water source? Is it effective to re-wild land when clear-cutting is taking place next-door? Can we ever outpace deforestation with restoration efforts?

This is your chance to let the government know that while the WTP is a great start, two thirds of Peachland’s water problems still exist. Peachland needs its water source secured, just like Victoria and Vancouver’s watershed reserves. What use is a $25 million WTP or annual Watershed Security Fund if you don’t have enough water, or too much water? Let’s go straight to the source, we have only to look at the events of last fall, do we want to be the next Merritt, Princeton or Hope?

Take the Ministry of Environment survey here

https://engage.gov.bc.ca/watershedsecurity/

Contact your MLA, demand watershed security, if your MLA is not dan.ashton@leg.bc.ca a list of constituencies here

https://www.leg.bc.ca/content-committees/Pages/MLA-Contact-Information.aspx

Tell your municipal elected officials you support watershed security here

https://www.peachland.ca/contact

and join the Peachland Watershed Protection Alliance here

https://peachlandwpa.org/how-to-help/

Board of Directors, Peachland Watershed Protection Alliance, Peachland BC

Written by Kristen Friesen

February 22, 2022

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