Sunday, August 30, 2015

Aberdeen Plateau Gets Dumped On

...more and more than people in Vernon may realize, especially lately.

System after system arrives on the Plateau where Duteau's water reservoirs are located.  Heavy rainfall frequently occurs as systems head east toward Lavington and Lumby on the plateau.

After three recent valley-bottom rain events, the Plateau continues to receive frequent--and heavy--dumps of rain.

Little systems arrive.

Within minutes, the Plateau's unique wind exposure turns small systems into larger ones.

All while we on the valley's south slopes are again feeling the sun's heat.
With nary a drop here.

Will Greater Vernon Water head up to the pleateau to update their reservoir level graph to reflect actual levels (versus this "estimate" dated August 15th)?

 "We may see that Aug.15th graph for some time yet," muses Kia.

You're probably correct.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

RDNO Water Survey Gets Comments

In June, GVAC chair Juliette Cunningham was quoted in the Morning Star as saying "We are developing a process where we will take our time and there will be an opportunity for the public to give us input."

That was encouraging, and many assumed that the RDNO water survey would be a stellar opportunity for opinions to be received from residents who likely did not plan to apply for membership to the Stakeholder Advisory Committee, whose deadline for stakeholder applications closed yesterday, August 24th.

So it was with considerable dismay that no questions on the RDNO water survey--two months later--even remotely--touched on a topic that could be related to the failed referendum on borrowing $70 million for the Master Water Plan.

What a missed opportunity for our elected representatives to learn why it failed!

And comments did fly...however probably not the warm and fluffy comments that bureaucrats, who more than likely wrote the questions without input or permission from the advisory committee--expected.

A sampling:

"The questions asked (and particularly questions not asked) show strong bias towards producing results to support Greater Vernon Water's current practices.  They promote brown lawns and reduced water use but ask no questions about alternative water sources, about costs of water, about cost of and need for implementing the filtration being promoted, about using treating water for agricultural use, about security of supply, about management of the system, etc. etc."

"I remain undecided if I will answer the survey and I truly feel it is designed to solicit my support for GVW when in fact I am not at all happy with them and the survey does not give me opportunity to tell them so."

"The survey can be answered by anyone, including people who are not Greater Vernon Water customers & people who don't pay water bills and therefore are not aware of the circumstances arising from the Greater Vernon Water system.  Ignorance will clearly produce responses that play into GVW's hand."

"Several questions should have additional or other options for answers - some very possible and common answers have been omitted."

"There is no space at the end of the surveys, as is commonly provided, for respondents to state additional comments."

"It seems strange that this survey would be undertaken just as the Stakeholders Advisory Committee is beginning its work.  Who approved the issue of the surveys? and their questions?"

"I looked through all the survey questions and became more and more outraged at its absolute tripe when a myriad of meaningful questions could have been asked." 

"I answered the survey, remaining entirely unconcerned about water usage in general, because that was the only option left, given the lack of alternatives or the opportunity to answer an open question.  The survey is clearly structured to produce a desired result in favour of the existing system.  This must be brought to the attention of GVAC at the next opportunity."

"I completed the survey until reaching the last question only to find out there was no provision for comments.  Needless to say I did NOT submit it."

So it bears repeating...What a missed opportunity for our elected representatives to learn why the referendum failed.


"I wonder whether the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee even got to read the survey prior to release," muses Kia.

You mean...oh dear...that you think bureaucrats wrote and released a survey without elected officials having approved its contents?
Nah...that'd never happen! 

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Mixed Messages of Bureaucracy

It either is, or it isn't.

Sensational headline aside, the Morning Star on August 21st emblazoned above its banner "WATER LIMITS...Vernon considering stage two..."

Yet the article that deals with it has Dale McTaggart of GVW stating "water consumption has been reduced marginally, but reduced."

His report on July 27th to the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee stated "We're actually getting back into the blue, which means back into normal, but we do not plan to change the restriction (remove Stage 1)."

Apparently Stage 2 might be required to safeguard the water supply.

The article continues:
"Upland snowpack levels are below average..."
Yeah, it's the third week of August, folks.
Skiing closed a while ago...

McTaggart's July 27th report was followed, 18 days later, by the "August 15 'estimated' reservoir water level graph.

In 18 days, they couldn't have gone up there to get an actual reading?
18 days later it's still "estimated"?


Soooooo, if "we're actually getting back into the blue, which means back into normal", and the prospect of farm irrigation water being turned off a week earlier than normal, why is there a threat of Stage 2?  In fact, what do we need a Stage 1 restriction for?  And why was the above trigger level chart still "estimated" 18 days after issuing McTaggart's report?  Why aren't actual levels reflected?

McTaggart's comment "if we don't get a heavy snowfall this winter, we could be in real trouble next year...we just don't know what lies ahead".  

Yeah, we water customers also don't know what lies ahead.

"Oh yes we do," offers Kia, "price increase upon price increase courtesy of Greater Vernon Water."

Heavy rain streamers descend, time and again in August, on the Aberdeen Plateau.

We've been watching the Aberdeen plateau and are, frankly, surprised graphs of actual water levels haven't been released.

We'll close with a succinct "Overheard" comment:

(Is) anyone else confused by the info coming out of RDNO? On KISS FM we are all praised for reducing use by 26% this year, now it seems we are being shamed for only "marginally" cutting back and that we may have to go to stage 2 to safeguard the supply ( that now stands at normal for this time of year ) . We need an above average snowfall season to fill the lakes? They filled and spilled for two months this spring on a well below normal snowpack.  Oh the politics of this whole thing make my head spin. They are certainly doing a good job of one thing, and that is scaring anyone off from using water, and it's only going to cost us even more next year because of this. (anonymous)

Amen to that, brother.


You're Bang On, Bodkin

Jim Bodkin's letter to the editor on August 21st, entitled Priorites Need Adjusting, hit the nail squarely.

But we'll begin with his clincher:

"It doesn't matter if they are a homeowner or not, it will just be reflected in their rent cheque in one way or another."
Jim Bodkin

"I am writing to urge fellow citizens to contact Vernon's Mayor Akbal Mund and council to re-focus and and take concrete steps to make Vernon a better place to live for the most needy among us.

Vernon's 2014 annual report illustrates how at sea this regime is.

It says 'All the following goals are equally important to council'.  It then goes on to list 51 goals.  The general tenor of the report is everything is rosy and all is well.

With respect, having 51 equally important goals is not something I find believable.  It boggles my mind that Mayor Mund signed off on such a preposterous statement. 

 "...who are obviously struggling to make ends meet,
are forced with paying more than $400 a year
 for no water at all and then are charged
for the actual water they use."

How can everything be well when not so long ago The Morning Star reported that the Salvation Army had to make drastic cutbacks that included letting such a prominent citizen as David McBain go in order to keep its core mandate of helping the needy functioning at a much reduced level.  

More recently, it was reported that the Upper Room Mission has far more people showing up and that their clientele now includes many more seniors and families with young children having difficulty feeding themselves.

"That is a major disadvantage of being poor
and living in Vernon."

Here's one concrete suggestion for Mayor Mund and Vernon council to chew on.

In Vernon these people, who are obviously struggling to make ends meet, are forced with paying more than $400 a year for no water at all and then are charged for the actual water they use.

It doesn't matter if they are a homeowner or not, it will just be reflected in their rent cheque in one way or another.

That $400 represents most of a monthly Old Age Security cheque or most of a monthly rent cheque.

That is a major disadvantage of being poor and living in Vernon.

No one did that maliciously, it just happened.  It happened because sufficient care and attention was not paid to the consequences of not doing what other cities do to shelter their most needy from excessive price gouging of a commodity as essential as water.  They better balance their water funding needs.  Vernon does not.

That's what happens when you have 51 goals all of which 'are equally important to council.'

So, Mayor Mund and Vernon council here is a specific that needs to be addressed and corrective action taken.

It needs to be acted upon and rectified as soon as possible.  Dithering is not acceptable.

Poor people in Vernon are, quite literally, having their pockets picked of money that they need for food and lodging.

Fellow citizens, please do your best to get Mayor Mund and Vernon council to act on this.  Oh, it applies to Coldstream and to those parts of Areas B and C on piped water too."
                Jim Bodkin                                    

Treating the Public with Disdain

...a not uncommon practice from bureaucrats at Greater Vernon Water, akin to the way they treat elected officials of the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee.

Following last winter's failure of the $70 million borrowing referendum to further bureaucrats' plans for the Master Water Plan, you'd think GVW engineers might actually want to ask the public substantive questions in a "public water survey" conducted scarcely nine months later.

But noooooo, you'd be wrong.

They don't want to know the public's reasons for turning down the referendum.

Instead, bureaucrats have--with this survey--summarily answered a question with another question.
Or 11 pages of questions, as is the case with the water survey.

Survey questions are repeated immediately below, for shock value.

Yes, thinking people will be shocked at the survey's tone.
Entirely ignoring anything important that relates to bigger water issues, the tone is decidedly guilt-inducing and points squarely toward residential water users.

Here we go: (some questions edited for brevity).

Where do you go to seek more info on how to take care of your lawn?
At my home I have the following in place to conserve drinking water (list includes lo-flush toilets, lo-flo showerheads, drought-tolerant plants, reuse of grey water, rain barrels, high efficiency washing machine, irrigation timer).
How likely are you to purchase a water conservation device listed above if rebates were available?
Do you think it's possible to have an attractive yard while also conserving water?
If you've sought info on how to conserve water in your yard...have you changed your practices based on this new info?
Are you interested in learning more or implementing outdoor water conservation opportunities by...visiting demo sites, home visit water audit, professional landscape/irrigation design, workshops, factsheets?
Are you aware of your allowed watering days?
Do you have a septic system?
Which measures do you employ to decrease pollution in stormwater from reaching storm drains? (list includes, limiting use of salt on pavement in winter, keeping street gutters/storm drains clear of leaves and debris, direct downspouts to lawn versus driveway, dispose of pet waste in garbage, collect motor oil, paint, etc. and dispose at facility);
Herbicides and pesticides can end up in lakes/rivers because "people often use up to 50 times more fertilizer than they need to."  What yard practices are you willing to adopt to protect water quality? (list includes grow native plants, reduce irrigation allowing lawn to grow to at least 2-3 inches, no-mow strip 5 meter riparian area, not use chemical pesticides/herbicides/fertilizers; use compost as slow-release fertilizer; use rain barrel or rain garden to divert storm water.)
Water flowing over pavement picks up oil, debris, contaminants from roof and driveway.  Permeable driveways allow water to seep into soil.  How likely are you to replace pavement with a permeable layer?
Is stormwater runoff pollution a major environmental concern?
Did you know sewage plants are meant to only remove body wastes and toilet paper?  Flushing anything else can cause problems for treatment systems.
Are you concerned about any of the following issues/impacts on our drinking water? (List includes:  Pesticide/chemical fertilizers by homeowners or farmers; livestock access to water bodies, and their manure, Goose/wildfowl feces; improper disposal of pet feces; stormwater pollution from urban areas; septic system leaks; logging in watershed; motorized rec activity in watershed, inc. ATVs/Quads,Motorboats).
Did you know GV water is not filtered?
GV water has 2 treatment barriers at each of its main water sources and uses a combination of dissolved air floatation and chlorine, and chlorine and UV.
Is your water quality adequate?
Do you feel filtration is necessary to create safe water?
Have there been any noticeable changes in your drinking water quality in 5 years?
What info sources teach you about water issues? (Newspaper, internet, radio, TV, friends/family)
Personal care products (shampoos, cleansers/soaps may include Triclosan, common in anti-bacterial products, contributing to antibiotic resistance.  Plastic micro-beads can plug fishgills.  How likely are you to avoid products containing Triclosan and micro-beads?
Laundry detergent and dishsoaps contain phosphates, triggering weed growth and algae blooms.  How likely are you to switch to phosphate-free products?
Are you a pet owner? (ie. horses, dogs, cats and fish).
Car washes collect wastewater, using a car wash or washing car over grass reduces pollution.  How likely are you to use a car wash or wash your vehicle over grass?
CWF (Canadian Wildlife Federation) quote: re seven times more pollution comes from our cars each year than the amount of oil spilled in the Exxon Valdez disaster."  Use kitty litter or a cloth to absorb spills...dispose in the garbage;  
Do you have a hot tub or pool;
Check leak indicator on water meter to determine leaky faucets or toilets.
OBWB (Okanagan Basin Watr Board) quote concerning the Okanagan's high risk for future water shortages...dry climate and lowes per capita water supply in Canada.  How concerned are you?
How concerned are you re Zebra and Quagga mussels?
OBWB milfoil has so far cost $10 million to remove, whereas invasive mussels estimated to cost $43 million annually to manage;
Canada goose population...the public who feed the birds contribute to the problem as it keeps the geese here...leading to "lower aesthetic quality of parks, golf courses, and lawns".

"I won't ask who wrote that abject drivel," offers Kia.

Wow...the last survey question indicates bureaucrats -- finally -- give a tinker's damn about 'lower aesthetics of parks, golf courses and lawns' because of goose poop, albeit not because golf courses and lawn irrigation has become too expensive! 

Correct disposal is in the garbage...

What a missed opportunity for bureaucrats to discover why the referendum failed.

Proof they don't want to know what the public thinks.