Saturday, January 31, 2015

Dangerous Duteau

Don't filter Duteau Creek water.
Shut Duteau down.
Keep it only for its original use--irrigation of farms and acreages.

This article is (naturally) in lay language, the limit of my comprehension.
And to be blunt, that's probably the limit of many everyday acquaintances too.
Few of us are academics.
But there are things we should look at more deeply.

Let's start with a perception exercise.
Consider the following two potential water sources for your family's drinking water.
Decide which of the two will supply water to you and your extended family.

(Technical people involved in the area's water system will scoff at my "oversimplification", but we residents--laypeople--were recently asked, via a referendum, to make decisions that affect us.  To many people, my oversimplified summary may still contain "complexities" about which they were personally unaware.  Such is life.)  
Back to the perception exercise.
Picture two lakes: 
Lake #1 is at the top of a watershed, a plateau with a few cabins (presumably with bio-toilets or septic fields), year-round public recreation (hunting, fishing, hiking), plentiful wildlife, the only industrial use is current and historical logging with clearcuts, open areas adjacent to now-riparian-protected lakefront with water system intakes.  Agricultural use includes grazing cattle on open range.  That's the Duteau Creek water system of four interconnected lakes which act as water reservoirs for snowmelt and rainfall.

Lake #2 is in the valley bottom, surrounded mostly by housing (the majority of which are connected to sanitary sewers), paved travel corridors with associated commercial construction, farming, former ranchlands, some parkland and historical cabins whose construction predated riparian rules (which have presumably now equipped themselves with bio-toilets or pumped septic catchments), a myriad of chiefly seasonal public uses (boating, fishing, beaches, camping).  That's the deep Kalamalka/Wood Lake water system, whose water inputs are predominantly from surface and groundwater springs.  Okanagan Lake is also such a lake.

Which would you choose for your family's drinking water?

Gut reaction would likely point to the upland source, Lake #1.
Having resided here for nearly 40 years, that was my feeling too.


Would your answer change if you discover that Lake #1, the upland system of four lakes, today contains carcinogens (cancer-producing substances) in it that were not present before the Duteau Creek Water Treatment Plant was built?

That's right, those cancer-producing substances were not present before the water treatment plant was built.

Duteau Creek Water Treatment Plant trihalomethane levels
have exceeded maximum recommended levels every year since 1998:
  1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011!!!!
Compare that to Kalamalka Lake water distribution through the Mission Hill Water Treatment Plant which has
NEVER exceeded 50 per cent of allowable levels !! 
Source:  Councillor Kiss' Powerpoint presentation, page 24 of 51

I recall in the early 1970s how beige the pre-treatment plant water from Duteau Creek was.  We sent to the dry cleaner my husband's white dress shirts.  I used to daily spend an hour, walking through our 1,100 tree apple orchard with a straight pin--yes a straight pin--in hand, to tediously unplug our 8-inch microjet irrigation's risers...a "glop" of something slimy and brown was always the culprit.  Then water again sprayed in its customary 180-degree pattern (two at each tree, totalling 2,200 emitters) from the now-unplugged emitters.  Rubbing the culprit between thumb and forefinger produced a soft wood/bark thingy that resembled a sliver.

That thingy was organic material, the cause of today's health problems that originate at Duteau Creek Water Treatment Plant.
Yes, it's the cause.
Because organic material led to treatment which led to the production of carcinogens.

Technical reports indicate that the four-lake system at Duteau contains a lot of organic material, especially when compared to the much lower amount of organic material contained in valley-bottom lakes (Kalamalka/Wood and Okanagan).

The more organic material there is, the more chlorination is required to treat the water.

So Duteau-sourced water needs a lot of disinfectant compared to lowland lakes.
But it's the by-product of disinfection that produces carcinogens.

Today, Duteau-sourced water contains Trihalomethanes and Haloacetic Acids, none of which were present previously.  

"Trihalomethanes are formed as a by-product predominantly when chlorine is used to disinfect water for drinking. They represent one group of chemicals generally referred to as disinfection by-products. They result from the reaction of chlorine or bromine with organic matter present in the water being treated. The THMs produced have been associated through epidemiological studies with some adverse health effects. Many governments set limits on the amount permissible in drinking water. However, trihalomethanes are only one group of many hundreds of possible disinfection by-products—the vast majority of which are not monitored—and it has not yet been clearly demonstrated which of these are the most plausible candidate for causation of these health effects." (Wikipedia link here).

"Haloacetic Acids are a common undesirable by-product of drinking water chlorination. Exposure to such disinfection by-products in drinking water has been associated with a number of health outcomes by epidemiological studies."  (Wikipedia link here).

A recent personal story will conclude this story.

But first an observation that occurred to me.

Did you ever--in a hurry--wash your hair under either the bathtub faucet or the bathroom sink?
And get a horribly strong sniff of chlorine, especially during winter months?
I have.  Lots of times.

That was a puzzle until "a little birdie" told me that residents--chiefly in East Coldstream, nearer the water treatment plant than other Vernon, Coldstream or BX residents on the same water system--were exposed to more chlorine.
Apparently because water sample readings at the waterlines' terminus had to contain "x" residual chlorine.  So more chlorine was added, exposing those nearer the water source to more chlorine, just to get the test samples to meet acceptable levels at distant testing outlets.

Approximately one-quarter of Greater Vernon Water's residents receive water from Duteau Creek, and I'm guessing that half of that one-quarter live in East Coldstream, exposed to higher-than-necessary levels of chlorine disinfection. 

OK, now for the personal story.

My husband of 44 years is hale and hearty, always has been.
Likely a result of good genes more than determination on his part, he does maintain a fully active work schedule, and has chosen not to retire from his business.
He never gets a cold or the flu, and his medium-sized frame compliments his height; no wheat-belly on him.  He does get aches and pains in his back from lifting (there's always something heavy to lift on acreage or in a business), but he's soon over that with copious self-medication of vitamins.  I don't recall that his shadow ever darkened a hospital doorway except when our daughter was born, and I would have fingers left over if I counted on one hand how many times he has gone to the doctor in all those years.

So imagine my surprise when after Christmas last month my husband complained of a "brutal headache".
I've never before heard my husband say he had a headache (he says he's never had one).

Day after day, the headache was in the same location, same side of his head.
Its pain "ebbed and flowed", but never really went away.
Then his eye on the headache side became bloodshot.
Day after day, the bloodshot eye and the pain.
Refusing to go to the doctor, he took aspirin for the pain.
He also didn't miss a day of work (likely because he owns the business...)

After approximately two weeks, he finally did attend his doctor.
The result?
Apparently a "sinus problem".

But I know it was my husband's fault.
Yes, my husband is responsible, along with Duteau Creek.
You see, he's one of those people who takes long hot showers, saying that his back muscles benefit.

So why the reference to Duteau Creek if we're talking about the husband's long showers?

Read further from Wiki:  "Some of the trihalomethanes are quite volatile and may easily vaporize into the air. This makes it possible to inhale THMs while showering, for example. The EPA, however, has determined that this exposure is minimal compared to that from consumption."  I'm thinking back to the strong chlorine smell, especially during winter (and the "residual test results" mentioned earlier), and the fact that my husband takes 15-minute (yes, alas!) showers.

My showers are four to five minutes.  Tops.
In winter, my husband's north-facing bathroom is cold, so he doesn't activate the ventilation fan.
Nor does he open the window.
Inhaling THMs...guessing that is what caused his persistent headache.
But only in this winter; during the other three seasons the bathroom window is always open.
To be fair, neither of us recall him ever having sinus issues during other years' winter months.

Don't be smug if you have short showers, you can still inhale the volatile THMs.

And swimmers in public or private chlorinated pools?  Wiki on this:  "In swimmers, uptake of trihalomethanes is greatest via the skin with dermal absorption accounting for 80% of THM uptake. Exercising in a chlorinated pool increases the toxicity of a "safe" chlorinated pool atmosphere with toxic effects of chlorine byproducts greater in young swimmers than older swimmers. Studies in adolescents have shown an inverse relationship between serum testosterone levels and the amount of time spent in public pools. Chlorination by-products have been linked as a probable cause."

Back to trihalomethane levels at Greater Vernon's water sources.

Councillor Kiss' excellent Powerpoint presentation, on page 24 of 51, compares the Trihalomethane levels of Duteau Creek and Kalamalka Lake water.  (Note:  Enlarge the page for clarity with Ctrl + (Ctrl plus sign) three or four times, afterwards reduce page size on your screen with Ctrl -  (Ctrl minus sign) three or four times).  His entire document is noteworthy, so please read it in its entirety.

Note that on page 24 the green horizontal line is the "maximum recommended acceptable level" set by government.

Duteau Creek Water Treatment Plant trihalomethane levels have exceeded maximum recommended levels in every year since 1998.  That is, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 !!!!  During the same years, Kalamalka lake water distribution through the Mission Hill Water Treatment Plant saw trihalomethane levels that have NEVER exceeded 50 per cent of allowable levels !!

"Tear down Duteau, move all the equipment to Mission Hill and enlarge that treatment plant," shouts Kia.

The Duteau Creek Water Treatment Plant created more problems than it solved.

And now water officials are going to do a Protozoa study at Duteau.
The news isn't going to get any better, is it folks?

"We must not throw good money after bad," warns Kia of Greater Vernon Water's plans to accede to Interior Health's demands to filter Duteau Creek Water.

I'll spend the next month or so convincing my husband to take short showers, and open the window.
The other benefit is to save a few sheckles on the water meter!

Additional Reference:  Water Source Evaluation, commissioned by RDNO, document here.

EDIT:  Adding Councillor Kiss' most stunning revelation: 

"I maintain that the system for agriculture should return to agriculture and all allocations should be honoured. Domestic supply should be coming from Kalamalka and Okanagan Lakes. It is that simple. Had we started out from those principles we would have an unaltered VID system working without any money spent on it and we would be using Okanagan Lake without filtration like Kelowna is doing. Kelowna built the UV treatment plans in 2006-2007 for about $7 M and have no trouble at all. You can find their turbidity reading for today here. They provide it every day. Obviously, there is no need for filtration at those turbidity readings."

 Councillor Kiss certainly deserves residents' thanks...big time!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Make your own Car Window Sticker

...make your own!

Who needs a bumper sticker when we can print our own, and tape to the car window!

"Okay, now let's drive around," suggests Kia.

At least the price of regular fuel indicates we North Okanagan residents are only (continuing to be) gouged by approximately 20 per cent (at 96.9 cents / litre).

Where's the "In Depth" Reporting?

You'd think everything was tickety-boo here if you merely read the Morning Star.
Without thinking.

It's been nearly three months since the $70 million water referendum failed.

Thinking people would realize there's been no mention (other than a cursory--and very late--comment from Coldstream mayor Garlick that "it" might lead to a peer review).

Thinking people would wonder why there was no mention by bureaucrats--nor GVAC directors for that matter--of what happens now (other than RDNO boss Sewell saying he'll get politicians and Interior Health to discuss).

Thinking people would realize it's awfully late to encourage public input!  Couldn't public input have been sought before the referendum question was posed?  Perhaps the referendum could have posed multiple options if failure resulted...heaven forbid the time saved would've been an advantage.

And thinking people would wonder if having a one-newspaper town results in the Morning Star taking the easy way out by not asking tough questions of bureaucrats and directors.  And some would wonder aloud if the Morning Star mandate was to consistently and conveniently be pro-bureaucrat.  Yet others would mutter something about the Morning Star being on the Regional District's payroll...their image consultants.

Even a resident who was "uninitiated" in this area's water woes would realize today's Morning Star story could do much, much better.

Ask tough questions.
What if the public demands changes to water sources?
A longer list will be provided if/when the newspaper appears to show interest.

"Let's wait until Sunday's issue to see if they will," offers Kia in a rare wait-and-see mood.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Bureaucrats Just Don't Get It

"We need to review and consider why there wasn't the political support," David Sewell, boss at RDNO was quoted as saying in today's paper ("Pressure placed on politicians", Morning Star).

Because politicians listened to their constituents, that's why!

This is two months since the $70 million water referendum was defeated.

Sewell needs to be told by politicians--who initially were nearly unanimous in favour of the Master Water Plan--what constituents have told elected officials:  We will not approve a plan that continues to put chlorinated water on acreages and farms--soon to be filtered water if bureaucrats' master water plan is allowed to proceed.

Sure, residents turned down the $70 million cost.
That was the lone question on the referendum.

But in so doing, residents also turned down the projects of the master water plan.

That's something the bureaucrats haven't yet gotten used to.
They probably listen only to each other.

"It's a shitty plan," offers Kia.

Somebody had to say it.


Saturday, January 17, 2015

GVAC Directors Disappoint

Communication failure.
Deferring to bureaucrats.
GVAC directors are failing the public.

Imagine my surprise when--as part of my invoice from the District of Coldstream--last quarter 2014 water invoices arrived for my three water meters (residence, clubhouse and irrigation) and a new charge appeared on my Irrigation invoice:  $560.00 Unmetered Fire Main 150mm.

So what, you say?
Well, a refresher on the fire hydrant history is probably needed.

The last I heard, after I made a personal presentation to the Regional District of North Okanagan's Greater Vernon Advisory Committee back in September or early October, was GVAC chair Juliette Cunningham's comment about the "exorbitant" rate, and that the issue would be reviewed.

How idiotic of me to presume the exorbitant rate would be reviewed (and I would be advised of the outcome of the "exorbitant" rate) at the same time 2015 water rates were being considered by the Board!

Yes, the hydrant was a Development Permit requirement during the Highlands Golf planning stage.  Nobody ever said that there'd be an annual tax on the bloody thing.
And what for?
It's never been serviced by the RDNO; hell, they never so much as looked at it after they approved its installation as part of the DP approval. was:
"moved and seconded by Director Sawatzky and Alternate Director Garlick that it be recommended to the Board of Directors, staff be directed to bring forward all relevant information regarding private fire hydrant fees and to review what is done in other jurisdictions with recommendations and options for the committee to the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee" page 5 of 82 here.

Where's the "recommendations and options for the committee"?
Where are the minutes of GVAC's discussion on what they decided?
Bureaucrats likely were blunt in their suggestion:  "yes we screwed up, but now we have previously un-invoiced private hydrant owners to invoice...thanks to this applicant for 'procedural fairness'."

Look at it this way:
Also included in the DP was a Landscaping requirement, duly completed, along Highlands' roadfront.

"Expect an invoice for an annual tax on EVERY TREE/SHRUB that you planted," scoffs Kia.

The fact remains GVAC let me down.
This isn't the "procedural fairness" I was (rightly) requesting.

So did the District of Coldstream for not providing a letter stating under what authority the RDNO has now transferred the unmetered fire main invoice for $560.00 to the District.  To be fair, they probably don't have a clue.  They just do what the Regional District bureaucrats tell them to do.

GVAC communication failure?

There's still no justification of why the annual tax goes up by ~$100 each and every year.
And where is the discussion among Advisory Committee members?

"An invoice is how elected officials and bureaucrats communicate," offers Kia.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Water Usage vs. Allocation

In 2014, Highlands Golf used 2,819 cubic metres of water (including domestic use at the residence) on the property.

Our allocation is 10.0035 acres water = 22,275 cubic metres allowed annually.

Results over the last few years are as follows:

2011      2,986 cubic metres used    =    13.4% of allocation

2012      2,953 cubic metres used    =    13.2% of allocation

2013      3,162 cubic metres used    =    14.2% of allocation

2014      2,819 cubic metres used    =    12.7% of allocation

Costs?  2014 costs were $3,901.85, up from $3,343.92 in 2013.

Since 2008, water costs have increased by 219%.

In the 14 years since Highlands Golf opened, water costs have increased by approximately 400%.

"Thank goodness you didn't use that other 87.3 per cent of paid-up allocation," avows Kia.

Since no provision exists in Regional District water bylaws to refund (buy back) unused allocation, wonder who is using that 87.3 per cent?

Nobody's Sayin' Nothin'

Double negative, sure.
But the fact remains that following November's public rejection of the $70 million borrowing referendum of the Master Water Plan, there's been nada issued to the public.
Despite lots going on with the regional district's water/engineering department.

Lots going on?
Such as 2015 water rates?
Nope, not new water rates, despite public eagerness to find out what water rates will be as of April 1st, 2015.

Those who rely on the Morning Star to keep them informed of timely issues will be dismayed and disappointed in the newspaper's ability--indeed apparently, desire--to fill the perennially-vacant position of Devil's Advocate.   Rolke and Smith prefer to schmooze in safe territory.  Safe territory where the public is seldom warned of significant goings-on among the bureaucratic enclave.

Also silent is coin-toss winner Juliette Cunningham, a Vernon councillor, who fills the GVAC Chair role for her second term.

So if not new water rates, what's happening that the public needs to know'?

The Regional District of North Okanagan engineering department, still smarting from the slap of the failed referendum, have put demands forward to the beleaguered Greater Vernon Advisory Planning Committee, none of which even remotely resemble what the public wants:  that NO chlorinated--and proposed filtered--water is applied to farmlands, fallow acreages or golf courses.

Freshly re-armed after their lengthy--and compensated--Christmas/New Year's break, water engineers have come out swinging at the first GVAC meeting of the new year.  With no approved budget (as yet), they appear hell bent on "designed confusion" at the table.  And certainly with little explanation forthcoming, that the majority of directors (save perhaps three, in my opinion) see through the smoke 'n mirrors of the department's recommendations.

A succinct analogy may more accurately represent the decidedly dysfunctional relationship between professional engineers at the regional district and the elected members of the Advisory Committee:  two 12-year olds needing to get permission for their actions from two 6-year olds.
That in itself doesn't bode well, methinks.

Having not been warned of the continuing (and continual) need for diligence, the public continues to doze while water engineers have submitted the following requests in their typically-lengthy (this time 127 pages) agenda at this first meeting of the year:

1.  To expand on Thursday, January 8th story ($2,270,000 NOW), bureaucrats are requesting "Early Budget Approval" for these 5 projects, requested on page 2 of 127 here:

  • Claremont water utility $700,000.
  • Highway 6 water main replacement $660,000.
  • Pleasant Valley Road water main replacement $490,000.
  • Aberdeen low level outlet $400,000.
  • Bleach tank at Mission Hill water treatment plant $20,000.
Plus a conveniently Late Item, consisting of two heretofore unknown (to the public, anyway) plans:
  • Water Metering Improvement Program to install radio read meters;
  • Raise Aberdeen Dam including height for flood protection for Lumby and to support fisheries flows.
The last two are eligible for grants, and approval is sought to apply for the grants.
Engineering states:
"The Engineering Department has compiled a preliminary list of long-term capital projects required for the services that it manages and have identified two projects within the Greater Vernon Water (GVW) utility that best meet the criteria of the grants above. Other projects for other services managed by RDNO Engineering have also been identified, but they are generally smaller in scale and other grant funding sources have been identified that will be pursued for these projects."  

So it seems to the uninformed writer here that suddenly the Aberdeen Dam is eligible for (partial) grants because it mitigates Lumby flooding (which Lumby mayor Kevin Acton had requested for several years, all with no response) plus it protects fish.

That while residents not having sufficient access to reasonably-priced water to support our own activities was not eligible...ever.


Especially since the first grant opportunity...the New Building Canada Fund-Small Communities Fund allows for one-third funding from each Federal, Provincial and Local Governments.  Wait a minute.  That means we residents would kick in one-third the cost, so we pay...again.  And since our tax dollars also go to the Federal and Provincial governments, yup, we residents would've provided the two-thirds as well.

So let's look at the second grant "opportunity":  Strategic Priorities Fund.
It's a Federal program (so we contribute(d) to that) under renewed Gas Tax Agreement (so our gas taxes paid for that).  While this grant is up to 100% funding, we residents should be prepared to chip in more, especially when you consider how Engineering's quotes are so out to lunch, as is the vernacular.

Recalling the failed referendum in November, let's look at engineering's "preliminary list of long term capital projects":  Seems Greater Vernon Water spent $50,000 in 2014 to undertake a review of equipment, meter reading methods, compatibility and cost of software and equipment and purchase the equipment needed to collect meter readings with radio transmitters and install approximately 100 radio transmitters on RDNO meters that are classified as "difficult to read".
They spent $50,000 on that "review"?

Seems a hell of a lot of money just to review what amounts to basically paperwork they either already had in their files or could get by asking a supplier.  Presumably bureaucrats already get paid for every eight hours they're at work, so why was there $50,000 for a review?  Did people work overtime to do the review?  Why was there a need for $50,000 when hourly employees, presumably also paid, were already in place?

Why the heck are radio transmitters needed?  "Difficult to read" meters.  Why are they difficult to read?
Weren't they installed by GVW (to specifications) when the water meters were installed?  (Ours were, all three of them).  So why are they--today--difficult to read?  To make matters worse, GVW is looking at a 3 to 5 year term for a fixed radio read system, presumably for ALL water meters.

They state it costs $250,000 annually to read water meters.

Are they suggesting to lay everyone off and have water meters mirror Hydro's smart meters?
Of course not!
Then what was the purpose of that information?  Filling the page?
Are you sitting down for the next revelation?
Turns out GVW says water meters over 15 years of age will likely need to be replaced!
A preliminary estimate for the full implementation of the Meter Improvement Program is
as follows:  Note that approximately only one-third is eligible for any grant!!!
• Infrastructural renewal portion (not eligible for grant)     $5,950,000.
• Remote reading equipment and fixed communication system  $2,400,000 (eligible portion $800,000.)

Where does engineering plan to find the two-thirds not covered by the grant?
Yup, you guessed it.
The $1.6 million will come from residents, whose tax dollars have ALSO funded the other grants (Federal, Provincial and Local).  Plus the amount we (will) pay for the 2015 water rates.

Is this the payback residents should expect for shooting down the borrowing referendum?

The ONLY item above even remotely connected (pun intended) to the failed referendum is raising the Aberdeen Dam, whose 2022 implementation is being fast-tracked because of the sudden grant eligibility as mentioned earlier.

While many residents would agree that the dam likely needs to be raised, it won't make water cheaper.  Nor will any additional volume be available to users. 

But it's the abject disparity between the MWP's planned Raising Aberdeen Dam cost in 2022 and what engineering is now proposing it will cost TODAY that will make residents gasp (as it did me).

The failed, but undead, Master Water Plan

Here's an example of how Engineering does their "quotes": 
Seven years from now, the MWP 2022 budget was $6.4 million to raise Aberdeen Dam 4 meters.

That plan for 2015 will now raise the dam by 5 meters.

Doing the work 7 years earlier at 2015 (un-inflated) costs,  4 meters would cost $6.5 million PLUS a further $3 million for the 5th meter of height for a total cost of $9.5 million...a One Hundred Forty-Six per cent increase over what Engineering said it would cost in seven years, but the work would be done now!

Based on that, I don't think it would be unreasonable, had the work waited until 2022, to believe their $6.4 million proposal would've probably been shy by 600 per cent!

No wonder no-one's sayin' anythin'.

"The public will hit the ceiling when they learn of this," warns Kia, adding "the GVAC Chair needs to each month provide a public statement to apprise people of what's happening at the table."

Sorry, Ms. Cunningham.
But Rolke or Smith could publish it in the Morning Star. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Politicians' Continuing Myopia

Faced with "a future course of action (being) in limbo" with the November defeat of the $70 million borrowing referendum, GVAC director Mike Macnabb was today quoted in The Morning Star's story "No direction yet for water plan" as saying "We have to talk to the Interior Health Authority...and the provincial government".

Not their only mistake...
...but probably the first one of 2015.

MLA Eric Foster was already quoted as saying residents shouldn't rely on the provincial government to step in with money for health authority-mandated water upgrades. Nothing new there. 

And the health authority was recently quoted as saying they might not impose an Order to do the work.
Has anybody (other than Councillor Kiss) figured out that the health authority works for us?
Yes, they are to take direction from residents!
We said "no" and the health authority should back off...immediately.

So where does that leave the engineering department's plans to upgrade the water system so that not only chlorinated water is delivered as irrigation for farms and domestic use at residences, filtered water would now be delivered as irrigation for farms and domestic use of residences. 
Yes, hay and corn fields would soon be watered with BOTH chlorinated AND filtered water.

Dumbest idea ever.
And the public will have none of it!
Got it, politicians?

Then in another story in the same issue, there's a big hue and cry about how to improve safety at two admittedly dangerous intersections...Highway 97 at Birnie Road (the garbage dump turnoff south of the city),-119.304136,519m/data=!3m1!1e3  , and Highway 97 at Stickle Road,-119.2548365,259m/data=!3m1!1e3

Sure, safety is a problem at both.

But politicians are blathering about confidential meetings with the Ministry of Transportation and the Regional District.  Probably so that they can all wring their hands and wonder what to do.  They'll probably have to strike another committee of stakeholders!

Why the hell--if safety is so important (and it is)--don't any of those people have the idea to fix it immediately.

How?  Easy peasy.

Especially Stickle Road (the Squires Pub and Art Knapp Nursery turnoff).
Construct barriers so that Stickle Road (both east and west) can only TURN RIGHT onto Hwy. 97.

No left turns permitted.

Easy peasy.

That solution isn't quite as effective at Birnie road, but it is possible as an interim measure to ensure safety.
While the bureaucrats and ineffective politicians continue meeting to hash over their non-ideas.

Wikipedia defines myopia as "trying to see like a mole".

"...Nothing new in the North Okanagan in the New Year," admits Kia, pondering the ineffectiveness of both bureaucrats and politicians.

Accurately portrayed.
Move over bureaucrats to allow for politicians' likenesses.

Help Wanted:  Someone...anyone...with the cojones to tell engineers, consultants AND politicians what residents will and won't accept.

Prerequisite:  Eyes and Balls.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

RDNO Water Wants $2,270,000 NOW

...despite the failed water referendum?

Or is the money "in the bank"?

Today's Agenda for the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee includes a request "for early 2015 budget approval" for five projects that total $2,270,000. (Recommendations 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 here on page 2 of 127 pages).  The five projects are listed at the link provided.

GVAC directors are deliberating the request now...

"Are they putting the cart before the proverbial horse," muses Kia, "or were those projects not part of the Referendum question?"

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Satire Died Today

Freedom of speech is entrenched in the Constitutions of democracies.  At least where democracy is strong.  At least until now.

To honour satirical expression--and mourn its loss today--Coldstream Corner is reprinting in its entirety an anonymous document currently making internet email rounds:  


Ozone created by electric cars now killing millions ....

White minorities still trying to have English recognized as Canada's third official language.

Children from two-parent, married, heterosexual families bullied in schools for being 'different'. Tolerance urged.

Brampton schoolgirl expelled for not wearing a Burqa: Sharia law must be enforced.

Japan announces that Japanese will no longer consume whale meat as whales are now extinct and workers in the scientific research fleet are unemployed.  Canadian Government has told the Japanese that Grey and Black Squirrels taste like whale meat.

Canada now has ten Universities of Political Correctness.  Professor Goldman Of U of T says there is still a long way to go in the fight to stop people 'saying what they think'.

Canada's deficit $20 trillion and rising. Government declares return to surplus in 100 years which is 300 years ahead of time. Prime Minister Mohammed Yousuf claims increased growth through more immigration is the secret to success.

Baby conceived naturally! Scientists stumped.

Iran still quarantined. Physicists estimate it will take at least ten more years before radioactivity decreases to safe levels.

Jose Manuel Rodriguez Bush says he will run for second term as US President in 2052.

Canada Post raises price of stamps to $28 and reduces mail delivery to Wednesdays only.

After a ten year $175.8 billion study, commissioned by the Liberal Party, scientists prove diet and exercise are the key to weight loss.

Average weight of a Canadian male drops to 252 lbs.

Supreme Court rules punishment of criminals violates their civil and human Rights. Victims to be held partly responsible for crime.

Average height of professional basketball players is now nine feet, seven inches.

New Canadian Liberal government law requires that all nail clippers, screwdrivers, fly swatters and rolled-up newspapers must be registered by January 2055 as lethal  weapons.

Revenue Canada sets lowest tax rate in decades at 75 per cent.

Toronto Maple Leafs won this year's Ontario Senior A cup final beating the Brampton Hindu Hornets  


"You omitted something...that your hardhat has corners," grins Kia.

Je suis Charlie
Jesus Charlie

Monday, January 5, 2015

Latecomer to Public Opinion

He actually used the words "peer review might be possible".
Yesirreebob, that's what Coldstream mayor Jim Garlick was quoted as saying.

Councillor Gyula Kiss must be wondering why the contagion (of asking for a peer review) took so long to have an effect.

That was one of the comments of Coldstream mayor Jim Garlick in The Morning Star story January 4, 2015, with a few excerpts reprinted here.

Garlick theorized about why the public turned down the water referendum.
"Some were upset over the $70 million or using treated water on agricultural land."

Did he say "or"?

Read our lips, sir!
The public is upset, actually angry over BOTH the cost AND applying treated water to agricultural land.
Got it?

And the public will not approve...repeat...WILL NOT approve a minor tweaking of the master water plan.
We demand no chlorinated water be used on farm lands!

And heads should roll that the Duteau Creek Water Treatment Plant was built in the first place!
$29 million (of which $12 million was a Federal grant) has been wasted.

It could have been applied to increasing the capacity of the Mission Hill Water Treatment Plant so that it handles ALL domestic accounts.

Garlick added:  "...Greater Vernon Advisory Committee must find a model that meets the guidelines but is acceptable among taxpayers.  There is no way this will move forward without public support for borrowing.  We have to build public support, adding that a peer review of the plan's technical components could be possible."

That's right, mayor.
There is no way this will move forward...
...if chlorinated water continues to be applied to farm lands.

The public won't allow it!
So change it.

And, remember that it still can't cost $70 million.

...So the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee--the group that approved this doomed water plan after recommendation from engineers and consultants--is now tasked to find a new model? 

"Do you really think that the same people (GVAC) that engineers and consultants convinced to bring this to the public will find a new model?"

Kia is incredulous at the mayor's optimism.
And that it took him so long to realize what the public is upset about. 

Kitchener Gas Prices

Almost fell out of my comfy chair when I heard regular gas was at or below 87 cents a litre this weekend.  But not in Vernon of course.

Here's a sampling of prices across the country:

So...Vernon's at 102.9, with Centex in Coldstream at 101.9.

And, once again, Kamloops has the lowest price in the Interior at 91.9 per litre:

In the Okanagan, we're continuing to fee, well, discriminated against.

"The sunshine tax again," we're reminded by Kia.

The rate at which gas prices increase:

And the rate at which they decrease:


Holy toodles.
This is the way winter used to be back in the 70's.
Snow started on Saturday and here it is Monday...hasn't quit snowing.

Buchanan Road was nigh impassable at dinner time last night.
Felt sorry for the folks who work afternoon and evening shifts in the service industry, as they'd have had a hell of a time driving home--or even TO work.

Surprised to NOT see local city ploughs out, getting a handle on the work, before snowlevels became too deep.  Crews must've been waiting for the snow to stop...well, city of Vernon and district of Coldstream, snow continued through the night and all day today so far!  Not wanting to brave Buchanan Hill last night, headed down Ricardo to access Highway 6.  At least that's level ground.

Highway 6 was brutal until two snowploughs, working the road in tandem, happened along.  An hour later on my return trip the road had six new inches of snow.

"It's difficult for a girl-dog to pee uphill," sniffs Kia.

Oh...and a dozen thorns for the total arsehole--obviously a four-wheel drive "expert"--who rode my bumper all the way home along Buchanan Road last night.

There's one on every street, it seems.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Councillor Kiss Stays On Topic

It's the benefit residents receive from "continuity" in politics.
Thank goodness he was re-elected.

A big thank you to him for getting residents out of their lazy Christmas holiday mode and back to reality with his letter to the editor, published December 31, 2014, printed after this preamble.

The majority of residents obviously share his opinion on the 2012 Master Water Plan's shortcomings, voting mid-November to defeat the $70 million referendum.

Had he not been re-elected, the lone voice in the area's water drama would've faded to black.
Likely the scenario that bureaucrats (and directors) at the Regional District of North Okanagan had secretly hoped for.

But did bureaucrats realize what the "no" vote meant?
Of course not, as they scramble -- hats in hand -- to Provincial bosses, feigning wounds from the voter attack.  They just don't get it!

Bureaucrats have yet to "get it" that the failed referendum is not just a denial of their plan to borrow $70 million, it means (...wait for it) that their six projects, as presented, are rejected and are not to proceed.

RDNO bureaucrats probably want to teach us all a lesson...and issue everyone a $1,000 invoice for the First Quarter 2015 water base fee/consumption.  Just to prove what the result of the failed borrowing referendum is.

Debt that would've simply compounded the initial problem.

OK, enough preamble.
Gyula Kiss' letter to the editor:

"Master Water Plan:  Early residents of the North Okanagan developed the Vernon Irrigation District system for irrigation.

It was perfectly capable of supplying all of its irrigation customers with agricultural-quality water.  It needed no alteration to satisfy irrigation needs.  A mistake was made when domestic water supply was connected to the irrigation system from the late 1960s to present.  It should have been obvious that domestic customers could only receive raw irrigation water through this system.

"This is just compounding the original mistake."

The remedy should be to have the domestic water customers separated from the irrigation (Duteau) system.  This was clearly stated in the master water plan 2002.  All domestic supply should be provided from the Mission Hill (Kalamalka Lake) treatment plant by extending that supply to the current Duteau Creek customers.

Instead, we have spent about $45 of $66 million (68 per cent) on altering the perfectly functioning irrigation system.  Even after this huge expenditure, the majority of the mixed system remains and the cost of water increased exponentially.  

"Duteau water is the most expensive to treat and most of that treated water is used for irrigation."

We are still delivering high-cost, treated water to both domestic and agriculture customers and our water rates have increased more than threefold since 2002.  We did not resolve the problem we intended to resolve, we made it more expensive.

The 2012 MWP proposed to spend an additional $58.3 million on further altering the irrigation system.  That would make the expenditure on the Duteau system a grand total of $103.3 million by 2022.  This is just compounding the original mistake.  Those funds should be spent on the total separation of the two systems.

The Duteau irrigation system should be left for agriculture.  The above sum is only for the initial infrastructure financing.  In addition, there are the annual treatment costs at Duteau Creek between $2 to 3 million.  Duteau water is the most expensive to treat and most of that treated water is used for irrigation.

There is also the maintenance and infrastructure replacement costs of the mixed water system and the new raw water system delivering untreated water directly to agriculture crops.  That is all paid for by the domestic customers.

Another problem is the competition for water in low snow pack years between irrigation and domestic customers. 

The Aberdeen source is supplied by small, shallow lakes totally dependent on annual snow and rainfall.  There were years when Grizzly Lake almost totally dried up.

In the meantime, there are unused water licenses on BX Creek that could be utilized from Okanagan Lake (more than nine million cubic metres).

One of the recommendations contained in MWP 2012 is to reserve 50,000 mega litres (50 million cubic metres) of water licenses on Okanagan Lake.

It is obvious that the final direction is to utilize Okanagan Lake as the main water source like Kelowna does.  If that happens, all of the investments in the Duteau system will become redundant.

The taxpayers expressed their opinion on the current MWP.  We must develop a new paradigm for our future water plan.  The new direction must come from the taxpayers through their elected representatives."
Gyula Kiss, Coldstream councillor

Fortunately, Gyula has support where it counts:  residents who voted down the referendum.
But he lacks support from even his own mayor, Coldstream's acclaimed (and self proclaimed pragmatic socialist) Jim Garlick and others on the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee.

Despite this:  "We want to reconfirm the objectives about what we hope to achieve with the plan," said David Sewell, chief administrative officer, RDNO, December 14, 2014.

So what'll it take to get the bureaucrats and other elected officials to change their opinions?
Probably a task not unlike that of a dissenting jurist...or judge.

"Dissenting opinions hold a unique place in our legal system. Practically speaking, they mean nothing. They are not the law, they hold no binding precedents, and rarely have any impact. Occasionally, a dissenting opinion will become vindicated by a future majority of the same court when attitudes or societal norms shift, however, this is rare. For the most part, they go unnoticed." 
2010 Albany Law School, Albany Law Review

But still worth doing.
Because common sense must prevail.

Residents are in charge, even though residents need to be occasionally reminded of that.

A few have written their own letters (excerpts follow):

"The new water rates in my opinion are nothing short of extortion for everyone in the Greater Vernon area."  (W.J. (Bill) Ridgway, published November 12/14).

"Surely a viable water supply is a necessity to Greater Vernon and should be a top priority".  (Brian Willows, December 7/14).

"Voters rejected the projects...a lot of people presented a lot of ideas which were not included in the very limited list of options that the water board had considered and then put forward to you.  Why were the terms of reference given to their experts so limited in scope?" (Dana Mills, December 21, 2014)

"Due to unfair and extreme hikes in water from the RDNO, I am outraged that 'they will look into this'!  (Sally Gorby, October 29/14).

"What has to happen is local government has to take the power away from Greater Vernon Water...some members of council more interested in getting free medical and dental benefits than looking after the people who elected them in the first place.  When your water bill for the year is higher than all of the taxes you pay on your house and another rate hike is forthcoming in November, hello GVAC chairperson, do you get the point?"  John Hegler, October 26/14).

"Kiss also notes that Interior Health rep Gordon Moseley has stated that if the (referendum) vote fails, upgrades won't necessarily be forced."  (Jennifer Smith, The Morning Star October 22/14).

"(Mayor) Garlick...approaching the provincial and federal government for funds to assist in (water) improvements, as well as taking a 'sober second look' at the plan."  (Jennifer Smith, The Morning Star November 19/14).

"Water rates could climb"...(Richard Rolke, The Morning Star, February 16/14)

"Water rates going higher" (Richard Rolke, The Morning Star, February 21/14).

"We are already paying $2 million a year for that plant up there (Duteau Creek), now they want $26.5." G.Kiss, February 14/14.

"Could the onerous water upgrades imposed by the Interior Health Authority have been appealed (at the UBCM convention" in September/14), October 2/13, Shawn Lee.

"Doesn't feel like a Happy New Year, does it?" notes Kia.

Anyway, thanks to Gyula Kiss for waking residents if only we could achieve something before bureaucrats wake up from their lengthy (and well-paid) holiday slumbers.