Thursday, April 29, 2010

Pool Police

Has this year's Greater Vernon drought situation created a new bureaucracy?  Apparently, it's been planned for years as part of scheduled activities, reports the Greater Vernon Water Authority.

Yep, flying soon over your backyard will be the Pool Police.

Pool companies and landscapers are seeing contracts cancelled, and crews laid off because it is now illegal to fill swimming pools.

Responsible for the inane ("s" intentionally omitted) end-of-April situation is our very own Greater Vernon Water Authority, whose lack of planning has placed the sizeable investments of homeowners, golf courses and a myriad of other businesses in jeopardy.  Busy with the Duteau Creek Water Treatment plant over the last two years--which is today three months behind schedule but on budget (an oxymoron to any business person)--the water authority last year made a feeble attempt at increasing water storage by raising the height of one dam. 

The snow didn't arrive this winter.
Or very much the year before, and April reservoir levels are at their lowest in 40 years.
Spring rains have been hit-and-miss, yet weather systems arrive daily at the Aberdeen Plateau where water storage is concentrated. See photos of the almost-daily weather systems over the plateau (taken from Highlands Golf).

Add to that the 200+ homes previously on Antwerp Springs wells 1 and 2 that were immediately contaminated by a late winter rain on frozen ground (which sent livestock feces into the shallow wells) are now, presumably, on the Duteau Creek source.

Back to pools.
The immediate Stage 3 water restrictions have created the "unpopular" ban on filling of pools, so described by water utility manager Al Cotsworth.  In a 5 p.m. phone call Friday to Highlands Golf, Al Cotsworth stated "golf course watering" was very unpopular among the public (and while he didn't say so, Highlands Golf isn't unaware of one Coldstream Councillor--who also sites on the water board as a director--who never was keen that Highlands was built, evidenced by his opposition last year to the new liquor licence application).  Not so among the golfers here during the weekend, many of whom encouraged a petition "to hold the water authority's feet to the fire".   Petition here.

One golfer added "And no more expensive water studies."  (Note:  this year's water authority budget included $100,000 for yet another study...yet another of many undertaken.  As far back as 10 years ago, the first of such studies identified that water storage should be increased.)  See story (reprint of) "20 Year Old Interview with Brian Harvey of Vernon Irrigation District".

Another outspoken golfer stated "I've lived here for 36 years and the community has grown 400 per cent, with no corresponding increase in storage."  He'd likely be interested in the North Okanagan Regional District's request for public input into its regional growth strategy.  "Surveys and open houses will be held later on in 2010, and all residents of the North Okanagan are encouraged to get involved in the discussion," said Anthony Kittel, regional growth strategy coordinator.  You can bet that WATER will be at the top of any list after this year's debacle.

As reported in Sunday's newspaper, "Pool parties are hard to dismiss and we'll be doing an air photo flight soon," Al Cotsworth said.  He added that regulations will be enforced, as they will become aware of filled backyard pools.

"I'll bark at low-flying flights," offers Kia.

Not necessary, Kia.  We're watering the vegetable garden with the water in the pool's winter tarp!

Oh yes...almost forgot to offer a gigantic welcome to a fabulous website:
Offered is free classified advertising (for 90 days), and features our local Vipers hockey team as well as--you guessed it--our water woes, and many other topics.  (Some features are still under construction).

Suddenly, water RATES aren't really the issue!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Stage 3 Water Restrictions...

As the newspaper announces, "unprecedented measures are being taken to preserve Greater Vernon's dwindling water supply."  And it's only April!

Greater Vernon's reservoirs currently have about 2,500 acre feet of storage, while it's usually 4,500 at this time of year.

Drought response planning was initiated in early March, and the measures have included looking at restrictions as well as other water sources that can be utilized if required.  Meetings have also been held with agricultural users because 70 per cent of our water goes to that sector.

How will Highlands Golf be affected?
In a 5 p.m. telephone call on Friday, April 23rd, water authority manager, Al Cotsworth, instructed Highlands Golf to use "minimum levels of water to maintain the playing areas in usable condition."

In an earlier article, "Snowpack a Concern" photos of weather systems on the Aberdeen Plateau were included.

As Greater Vernon's population continues to increase, we must focus on increasing water storage on the Aberdeen Plateau, where systems arrive almost daily, despite not-a-drop on the valley's southern exposure.

Click for Additional photos of Aberdeen Plateau weather: 

Or we might as well place highway signs north and south of Vernon..."do not enter....out of water due to bad planning".

"Do not enter?" gulps Kia.
I'll visit friends in Kelowna then...there are NO water restrictions 30 miles south of here!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

"The Fun Police are Watching"

Tim Oleson's "parting shot" from Golf Business Canada, Summer 2009 issue.

British writer, G.K. Chesteron thought that to enjoy the indulgences of the flesh, the simple pleasures of life:  "We give thanks for beer and burgundy by not abusing them."  That's probably how it should be, and how it is in most parts of the world with the cruel exception of Canada.

In other places, governments sort of assume that people will behave responsibly.  Here in Canada, we tend to assume that we must regulate people's behaviour down to the last detail.  After all, if we don't regulate how many government-monopolized drinks they may have on the table at a time, in what dark, cold, wind-swept alleys they can smoke their tobacco and -- this is coming soon -- how much and what kind of food they can eat, they will all completely lose control and become obese, cancer-ridden alcoholics.

Canada probably never really had any chance to have any fun.  Its founding people were:  French Catholics--many of them Jansenists, an ascetic sect that does not believe in enjoying anything; and British Protestants -- many of whom were of puritan stock and believed that these sorts of pleasures were downright evil.  Today, 63 years after Chesterton's death, things aren't much better, just different.

When I was young, there was not a single bottle of liquor on display in the government liquor stores; they were all kept behind the veil.  At least today, one can browse before buying a bottle at the government's arbitrary prices, if one can fit one's shopping trip into the government stores' arbitrary hours.

If you don't want to drink at home, you will have to go to a bar where the government has set both the hours it can be open and the minimum price you will have to pay for your drink.  This last is defended as a means to curtail drunkenness.

Those bars will also be completely smoke free; with nowhere for you to enjoy both a cigarette and a "CC water back", because no matter how good a ventilation system the bar might have, the government does not want you to smoke so you will have to go outside to enjoy your tobacco.

The campaign to ban fast foods is gaining momentum so quickly that it can't be long until, if you don't want to order a salad or a tofu sandwich off a government-approved menu, you might as well go straight home, hide in your basement and eat a black-market hot-dog, sip a beer and smoke the cigarette you are no longer allowed to smoke in your own car.  Just hope your nosy neighbour doesn't wise up to what you are doing and inform the anti-pleasure police.

Canada is no longer a country of just Jansenists and puritans.  It just acts like it is even though it is various and cosmopolitan.  Why should that vast majority who "give thanks for beer and burgundy by not abusing them," be punished for their pleasures because of the excesses of a few?

Source:  Abridged.  Original article:  "The fun police are watching you" by editorial writer and columnist Tim Oleson, Winnipeg Free Press, April 25, 2009.

"There's a fun police?" gulps Kia.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Farmers Squeak -- Proposed Water Rate Drops

Yes, the 9 per cent proposed rate hike was excessive.

Greater Vernon water had said rate increases were as necessary for water conservation as they were to help pay for the Duteau Creek water treatment plant.

But farmers don't need chlorinated water for their crops.
So why should they pay for increased costs of chlorination at the plant?
Besides, the Master Water Plan had promised farmers' rates would increase (only) by the cost of living.

At Wednesday's North Okanagan Regional District meeting, directors voted in favour of rescinding the 9 per cent proposed increase to 2.5 per cent.

Thankfully, Ted Osborn, long-time manager of the Coldstream Ranch, was able to provide the historical perspective--a nudge--to officials.  What is disturbing is that some directors and water authority officials "have been around almost as long as Ted", according to one attendee. 

Bureaucrats and elected representatives seem to increasingly rely on selective memory to support their ever-increasing thirst for funds.  The promise--indeed the guarantee--to farmers was almost broken by their greed and poor planning.

Highlands Golf--a company that also doesn't need chlorinated water for its crop--was under-represented twice by Doug Dirk...once as Councillor in Coldstream, and again as a director on the water board.   No concern from him about Highlands--his corporate constituent. 

Highlands Golf and other commercial non-potable water users can only dream of being represented by a Ted Osborn...

"He has a good memory," intones Kia.
   ...and a conscience to match.