Saturday, June 24, 2017

The "Person Interviewed"?


...why not say who it was?
OK, we'll print it...it was Coldstream Mayor Jim Garlick.

The mayor just happens to also be a years-long member of the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee--the group of elected officials who routinely accede to Greater Vernon Water bureaucrats' demands for water rate increases.

"...the board of directors
 are not held accountable,
 could care less
 and seem oblivious
                 to the world around them."  Bob Johnston


So it wasn't like the Mayor didn't know!
Know what?


Let's let Bob Johnston's letter to the editor, published in the Morning Star on June 23rd, 2017, explain it:

"Water Woes:
Have you been contacted by one of those annoying not-for-profit organizations that promise the world, yet seems to fall flat when the time comes for action?  So, if you were dumb enough to donate to such a nefarious organization and felt duped, did you ever delve into their background and discover the donations disappeared into a giant, black hole?  Sadly, the board of directors are not held accountable, could care less and seem oblivious to the world around them.

It turns out while reading the Morning Star the other day where a certain business had to close because it was forced by a large increase to their water rates, we have our own version.  

The water board/authority is trying to emulate the not-for-profit status mentioned earlier.  Ever try to find out where the money goes?  It is virtually impossible.  Ever try to find if anyone cares?  Virtually impossible!

Ever wonder why every year the rates go up even though how much water is or isn't in the system doesn't seem to make a difference?  By the way, wasn't that a nice touch when the person interviewed was shocked the rates had doubled in five years?

I guess there's no point in beating a dead horse."
               Bob Johnston


...Giant, black hole.
Good description!


Giving money and power to  
government is like giving whiskey  
and car keys to teenage boys.  
-- P.J. O'Rourke, Civil Libertarian 


See:  Addendum to Mayor's Dumb Comment, June 10 blog story, and
         Mayor's Dumb Comment, June 4 blog story here



Saturday, June 10, 2017

Addendum to "Mayor's Dumb Comment"


As is customary--and sincerely appreciated by residents--Gyula Kiss has some comments that follow the newspaper story, entitled Mayor's Dumb Comment, on a dry cleaner's permanent closure because of the area's ridiculously-high water rates.

Here's Gyula Kiss' "take" on it:

Surprisingly, nobody seems to know the reasons for the high price of water. Those in charge are not interested in my opinion but I might be able to shed some light on the reasons for the high cost of water. Here are some of the reasons:

1.     Wasted too much money on altering the recently improved VID system. It needed no changes. Wasted infrastructure cost about $40-45 million.

2.     Overestimated water demand and sized the capacity of the MWP accordingly, significantly increasing costs.

3.     Procrastinated with the MWP. 15 years passed since the original plan was announced in 2002 and it is still not finalized.

4.     Doubled the 2004 Referendum approved borrowing by collecting cash over and above the approved $35 million during the past 12 years.

5.     Ignoring the results of the 2014 Referendum and continuing to collect direct cash from customers in order to avoid going back to ratepayers for their approval.

Those are some of the reasons for the high water rates. Keep watching: those rates will continue escalating and reaching to the stars. 

In contrast, Kelowna is going to solve their identical problem by removing domestic customers for the South East Kelowna Irrigation District (SEKID) irrigation lines and extending Kelowna's domestic water supply from Okanagan Lake to the current SEKID domestic customers. Total estimated cost: $64 million. Learn more about Kelowna's plan here.

GVWU's estimated cost: over $200 million. Wasted time over 15 years. 

More wasted money: continue treating water for agricultural irrigation estimated to be $1-2 million annually. You, the domestic customer foot the bill. The agriculture community does not need treated irrigation water.

Could it be improved? I say yes. Staff say no. An independent reviewer is needed to review the plan and possible alternatives. Kelowna will do it's plan for less than a third of the cost and no wasted water on agricultural irrigation.

Just my opinion now!"



And Gyula just did!
Thank you, sir! 

Rail Trail's "Bad Inhabitant"


Speaking to a golfer this morning, I learned that the new Rail Trail is "loaded with poison ivy, and it's creeping in from the sides now that the railway company isn't controlling it".

He didn't have any photos of it on his phone, but here are some from the internet (click on photos to enlarge):








There are apparently up to 10 natural remedies for Poison Ivy exposure/rash.

This website should be bookmarked by people who walk or bike the Rail Trail.

And how about your four-legged hiking companion?  See this website to learn of symptoms your dog may exhibit, i.e. an itchy rash.

"There's a need for some photo/sign warnings on the Rail Trail," Kia would've said.

The new-to-the Okanagan golfer added another comment..."back east, we witnessed areas that were expropriated to provide 'rail trails', and then years later, politicians realized light transit would've served the highest purpose.  Trails were converted back to commuter rail transport...at huge cost."

He said that politicians here will learn that too.




Sunday, June 4, 2017

Mayor's Dumb Comment


"It seems like a considerable change -- a doubling (of the cost of water)," said Coldstream mayor and GVAC member Jim Garlick.

A considerable change?
Ya think?
Duh!

"...water prices are rising astronomically.
  The average quarterly bill was about $1,500
 when the business opened five years ago
...now it's about $3,000."
Michael Parent, Sunshine Laundry Express owner

Maybe as a GVAC member, Garlick's been asleep during GVAC's annual water rate setting meetings.
Whatever it is, like a typical politician with tunnel vision, he's simply blind to the political inefficiencies that exist in the North Okanagan...and the problems they themselves create.

At issue is the Morning Star's story today, headed "Laundromat Drowns" which indicated Sunshine Laundry Express closed its doors Thursday...permanently.  The owner stated "...water prices are rising astronomically.  The average quarterly bill was about $1,500 when the business opened five years ago and it's now about $3,000."

Think back to the KPMG-recommended governance review from years ago...which was summarily rejected by all the local politicians.  It recommended consolidating the various governments into one--or two.  That in itself would've provided a ton less of administrative and bureaucratic costs.  Why?  Well, just think of the proximity and administration of Vernon City Hall, five minutes drive there's the Regional District of North Okanagan, five minutes from there is the new Municipal Hall at Coldstream.  And don't forget the MLA's office somewhere in the middle of all that government.  They--and their bevy of bureaucrats--cost a whack of money.  Year after year.

Today's editorial states, in part, "...increased water rates can't be avoided as Greater Vernon's utility needs to replacing(sic) aging infrastructure as well as meeting evolving water quality standards enacted by government agencies.  GVAC officials weren't aware of Parent's (laundromat owner) challenges but they insist they will investigate."

Huh?
Investigate?
What the hell is there to investigate?
We have among the highest water rates in the Okanagan...and there's no indication those increases will stop.

The editorial concludes:  "...GVAC needs to always consider how utility rates impact all businesses and particularly high-use users of water, whether it's a laundry, car wash, brewery or golf course."

Ah...the voice of reason.
Unless, of course, those types of businesses are no longer welcome in the North Okanagan.
Many owners of those businesses suspect that's not far from being true!

Sleepy Garlick concludes:  "are there efficiencies we could help them out with?  Is there (efficient) equipment that could be used?"


Equipment?

Jeez...
Maybe there's a robot mayor available...

How about the sheer numbers of high-priced engineers running into one another at all these bureaucratic levels?
And all the consultants they hire to do their jobs...also high-priced engineers.



"Yeah, Garlick could help load the moving truck," Kia would've said, "as it heads south to a more business-friendly community."

Sorry to see you close, Sunshine Laundry!


Monday, May 29, 2017

Polson Park No Longer Family Friendly


Unintended consequences!

We heard yesterday of a young mother who took her 3-year old son to Polson so that he could ride his new bike and learn about traffic safety from his Mom.

"...Can you imagine how bad it'll be
when they legalize (pot).
  Holy cow, I'll never want to be
in public again with my young son."

Mom reported:  "He did so well...learned all about traffic.  And trafficking!  God, the 'low-lifes' down there...you could smell pot wafting across the playground.  Can you imagine how bad it'll be when they legalize (it).  Holy cow, I'll never want to be in public again with my young son."

What she was referring to, of course, is that homeless camps can take up residence in public parks.  If other options don't exist, that is.

Vernon Council voted 6-1 Tuesday to suspend the parks and public places bylaw, according to the Morning Star on May 26th, "when shelter space is not available and homeless individuals turn to parks temporarily."

But Councillor Juliette Cunningham said "I go to the park and it's a big park.  There's lots of places where you can go and feel safe."

Yeah, sure, Juliette!




"The Park will be family friendly during winter," Kia would've said.









Thursday, May 18, 2017

Lavington May Day Committee


...honoured Highlands Golf today with a visit to have their group photos taken.

Cute kids, cute costumes.
Nice adults.



The group went up to the irrigation pond...which is nearly overflowing from recent rains.

Thank you, Nicole with the Lavington May Day Committee for selecting Highlands for your photo shoot!


Give Bureaucrats a Window


...and maybe a thermometer too.

Received this letter, dated May 1st, 2017 from RDNO.
The letter was written 17 days ago, during one of the coldest--and wettest--six weeks of "Spring" in recent memory.

(click to enlarge)


Yes, our last backflow test was conducted on April 28th of 2016.
But this year?  Holy moly, it was probably snowing that day...

We still haven't turned our irrigation water on.

I phoned the Cross Connection Control Officer and left a message on voicemail (to which--by the way--there was no confirmation of receiving it) to state that our irrigation water isn't turned on yet and that we would attempt to make their "completion by May 31, 2017" deadline, there is no assurance that date will be met.

We haven't even heard from the tester fellow yet...

"He's probably still placing sandbags at his foundation," Kia would've said, "to prevent floodwaters due to heavy rains from entering his house."

Bureaucrats might be bailing water from their homes too...


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Truth Eventually Surfaces


...if you wait long enough.

Anyone in the public gallery during the Stakeholders' Advisory Committee Meetings, as well as SAC-appointed members and elected officials, have heard ad nauseum consultants and Greater Vernon Water bureaucrats state that "agricultural water use isn't expected to increase appreciably" (or something to that effect).

"...shows a six per cent increase in tree fruit acreage..."
Fred Steele

The denial that ag water use will increase is even contained within the technical memoranda (TMs 1 through 9) for those meetings, as well as hearing consultants state it during their summaries to the SAC committee.

Yet today on page A21 of the Morning Star, here's an interesting short article that quotes B.C. Tree Fruit Association President, Fred Steele:

"Tree fruits growing:
The latest statistics are fuelling optimism within the tree fruit sector.
The 2016 agriculture census shows a six per cent increase in tree fruit acreage in the past five years and a 51 per cent increase in revenue.

'The census shows why we are optimistic about the tree fruit sector's future,' said Steele...who believes there are a number of reasons for the industry's growth.

'We have benefitted from a strong Buy Local campaign, and our introduction of new varieties of cherries and applies is attracting premium prices and expanding export markets for our product,' he said.

'In terms of production, new horticultural practices that are more productive and environmentally friendly, as well as the introduction of the seasonal agricultural worker program (Mexico and Caribbean workers), have removed barriers to growth.'

The B.C. Fruit Growers' Association represents 520 family operated farms."






What's the big deal about ag water increases?
Why do people care?

Well, for one thing, residents are fed up with paying for agricultural water use (as the segment only contributes slightly over 4 per cent toward Greater Vernon Water's annual budget).  Especially since chlorinated water is being applied to crops at huge cost.

And secondly because of bureaucrats' lies.
Lying that the ag sector's water use isn't expected to increase in the next few years.

Residents aren't blind...they've noticed previously-fallow acreages planted to fruit trees...in incredible numbers.  Certainly some acreages did already have water allocations...but the pages of "new requests" found in RDNO agendas proves an upswell of ag water requests.
Because not every parcel had allocations to sell.

Proof is the thousand-plus pages of GVAC agendas (generally about 140 pages for each monthly meeting) in which requests for agricultural water allocation are made.
 
"Expensive chlorinated--and maybe soon filtered--water will continue to be applied to farmland," Kia would've said "despite our neighbouring community to the south focusing on separating water lines."

If I had no life at all, I'd research those pages and total all the new (requested) water acreage allocations.
But my life doesn't allow for that!


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Water, Water


The Boil Water Advisory that encompassed the entire North Okanagan's GVW water base has now been rescinded.

The following clubhouse sign will now be removed.




One complaint was that the alternative didn't taste good for brushing one's teeth during the advisory...G R I N !


Wonder what the water "depth" indicators would look like today (versus this March 1st reading).




Turn Off the Taps, Mildred!


Wow...and they say el Nino brings a lot of rain!

It seems la Nina packs a big bucket of it too!
Cold and wet since early April...unusual for the Okanagan.
We can count on one hand the number of sunny and warm days.

Flooding in low-lying areas, streams overflowing, fish 'n ducks on the road beside London Drugs.
Even Highlands Golf has water coming out of the ground in the strangest places...luckily no damage other than wet golf shoes.

Some pics:


48th and Hwy 97 (at the Toyota dealership), with a similar amount of water on the other side at the Fairfield Inn.

Boots for the grandson to do some putting...
No wonder this golfing family was happy...it wasn't raining!  And they were celebrating a birthday...

And this photo from the internet aptly explains the Okanagan's water woes...



So, turn off the taps, Mildred!

It's golf season...we hope.


Sunday, May 7, 2017

Birthday Girls, and a Daredevil


Dara, Holly, Alicia and Melissa...a great bunch of ladies!

They're not giving up their dayjobs...

And a weekend treat in this valley, our "daredevil" is back...a sure sign of spring!








What an accomplished pilot this individual is!

Love to see ... and hear it.
So do golfers on the course.


Recycling Survey Disappoints


In today's Morning Star, regional district segment, there's an appeal for the public to take part in a "general recycling survey", as they call it.


Residents have been angry for years since the "new" MMBC recycling program was pushed down their throats, so it was with anticipation I entered the URL into my browser.

There is a "grey box on the right" at this URL.
After clicking on RECYCLING on the engineering page disappointment was soon felt.

After completing several questions, I was disappointed that the survey was merely another way to "educate" the public, rather than truly obtaining their opinions on recycling changes' failures.
And asking for household income--as though to gauge whether rich--or poor--people tend to recycle more...is frankly, none of their business.
So I "x'd" out of it.

See for yourself here.

By the way, Multi Material BC is now renamed Recycle B.C.
We called it Mini Material BC.




"Because nothing beats the system we used to have...the blue bags at the curb, which were easy to haul down an icy driveway or stairs or an apartment elevator," Kia would've said.

Unlike some communities, we didn't even get the bins with the lids and wheels.
But the blue bags were the best.


Saturday, May 6, 2017

Really, GVW?


Imagine residents' utter surprise--after what seems like three days of torrential downpours (monsoons, according to some folks)--when they saw this sign at the base of Coldstream Estates:


There's even an evacuation alert for two homes along Duteau Creek's spillway.

And there's more.  Flooding in Vernon,  Armstrong, plus naturally, Lumby is very concerned.
Basically, anyone living in low-lying areas.

"Three days?" questioned a golfer this morning, adding "it's been raining on and off for 6 weeks."

Yup, it has.

Here are photos of Coldstream Ranch's "lake" taken this morning just south of the golf course...note the flooded creek (along the cottonwood/willow trees, and the field beyond that...toward Highway 6.




The latest round of thunderstorms arrived last night, looking very ominous indeed:




"Strange to hear the quacking of ducks in this dry valley," Kia would've said.

Even more strange to see the GVW sign.



Saturday, April 22, 2017

Disgusting Excess


It's not new during silly season.
But you'd think that the wasters would realize people may be offended by this duplication, and that it is no way to run a campaign.

Are you more likely to gain a resident's vote May 9th if they see the abject waste that you appear to support?




"Maybe that's how he ran his term as Member of the Legislative Assembly," Kia would've offered.

That's telling.


Dirk Minces Words


That's what I'd say.

Doug Dirk, GVAC Advisory Committee member was quoted in Gyula Kiss' blog on Thursday as saying "The (failed water plan) referendum is coming up on three years and we're marginally coming along on how to finance it..."

Gyula called his blog entry "Doug Dirk is too kind".
So it's kinda true.
The part about marginally coming along anyway.

But Councillor Dirk--a veteran (like Gyula) in Coldstream's political scene--is mincing words.
Side-stepping, actually.

Instead of admitting he hasn't a clue (same as his boss, Coldstream Mayor Garlick) in how to rein in the costly bureaucratic bush-beating, inefficiencies and bungling that today see chlorinated water irrigating farms, it basically underscores everything at Greater Vernon Water.
Doug Dirk wants residents to believe that the plan is still proceeding, albeit slowly.
He should've stated "frankly, folks, we're heading in a direction of no return.  We're totally screwed."

  

Let's see what Gyula posted under his heading of Doug Dirk is too kind:

Director Dirk is too kind!

Actually, the Master Water Plan has been going on since 2001, for over 15 years. It was supposed to be completed by 2007 (see MWP 2002 page 11-1). Then politics came in. Over $70 million later, amazingly,  we are irrigating agricultural crops with treated water, a huge waste of ratepayers money. Treatment cost runs about $1.5 million a year. Unfortunately, this water has chlorination only for disinfection while it serves about 20% of the domestic customers. It needs more treatment.
Now GVWU is planning to spend additional $8+ million so they can irrigate crops with even more expensive ultraviolet treated water. That is an extra treatment cost on top of the $1.5 million for a total of likely over $2 million annually. As the Chair person remarked, with UV we hope to be able to defer (but not eliminate) filtration for a bit longer. If filtration also has to be installed that will make the $8 million UV treatment redundant. It will also make the treatment costs significantly higher.

Kelowna and the South East Irrigation District (SEKID) were facing the same problem as Greater Vernon and VID did. Kelowna chose to take the gradual improvement plan by improving the water quality for the greater population of Kelowna first by installing UV treatment on the Okanagan Lake water supply. They have deferred filtration as the lake water quality was good without filtration.

When the problem with SEKID finally came to a crunch Kelowna went to the Government with the problem. They succeeded in obtaining a $44 million grant that will be used for total separation of the irrigation and the domestic water supply.

Greater Vernon Utility officials believed that government grants could only be used for treatment plant construction. Kelowna proved it not to be so! GVU wasted our money (and government grants as well) for constructing an ill-advised, money sucking treatment plant at Duteau because "...grants were available for treatment plant construction".

Kelowna is getting to work on a totally separated system that will provide highly treated Okanagan Lake water for both SEKID and Kelowna customers.

There is still time to reverse the current MWP direction. Projected additional cost to complete the MWP as it currently planned is roughly $150 million. About $110 million of that is proposed for Duteau Plant projects. In addition there will remain the annual treatment cost of about $2 million or more. These moneys would be more than adequate to cover the total separation costs.
The current masters of the MWP have been at it for nearly 17 years with little to show for their efforts. They are now bogged down in protecting the current direction. Since the construction of the Duteau Creek WTP there was a desperate effort to maintain the plant in the system even if it costs more to the taxpayers. They would not admit that there were mistakes made. New information has not been incorporated into the plans. For instance, the initial projections for water demand were hugely overestimated. We are still using those estimates in our plans to create larger than necessary infrastructure. 

It is obvious that a second opinion is needed to evaluate the MWP. When a potential expenditure for the plan is  over $215 million we should not rely on the opinion of a single group that ruled for over 15 years with questionable success. We must insist on getting a second opinion.

Staff and politicians try to eliminate further input from the ratepayers by using inflated water rates to collect funding for the financing of the water plan. This way they would not have to go for another referendum. It's kind of an "end run" to avoid the repeat of the 2014 defeat of the referendum. 
 However, this action is totally inappropriate as the current ratepayers will not get the benefit of what they are paying for. The benefits will only come after the moneys are collected and the projects are completed. For many that might be too late! Talk to your elected politicians and express your opinion to them!

My earlier activities: In 1991 I wrote a report with supportive evidence that total separation of the domestic and agriculture systems is the most cost effective option to follow.  MWP 2002 affirmed the same principle.

In 2006 I appeared in front of the RDNO Board of Directors requesting a Judicial Review (click for news report) of the direction of the MWP. It was refused. Instead, staff wrote a report stating that the Plan, which is incomplete even today,  was heading in the right direction. It seems that was not true.

This might be my last effort to appeal to my colleagues and to the Greater Vernon Water customers to demand an independent review of the plans. I have no more voice on GVAC. Neither staff nor politicians wish to hear opposing opinion.


Perhaps they will have to start listening to you, the customers!"
 
 

The unwelcome opposing views at Greater Vernon Advisory Committee meetings are the educated and analytical work of Gyula Kiss, who knows all aspects of numerous master water plans better than the GVW engineers and consultants combined.

So is Doug Dirk too kind with his politically-minced words?
Yup, suppose so.

Just another useless political comment from Doug Dirk, almost matching his political attributes.
Must be something going around.

"Maybe there's something in the water," Kia would've said.

Totally screwed up.

"Marginally coming along."
Maybe Doug Dirk is referring to how irrigated trees will fare under the soon-to-be UV-treated irrigation water!