Friday, September 25, 2015

A tad too enamored with his perceived power?

The absence of subjects of interest--to me anyway--in today's Morning Star (with the exception of yet another of Ken Mather's well-written historical features, and another featured election candidate) left me musing on what had been bugging me since I read the Morning Star issue of September 20th.

There, on the first page, was the story by their reporter Rolke, entitled "Water advocate doesn't make the grade".

No big deal, really; it's just a story title.
But it did stick in my craw.

GVAC director Kiss, for some time, himself hadn't expected to be included in the SAC committee that will meet October 1st to begin its review of the Master Water Plan 2012.

Even Coldstream Mayor Garlick's quote from the same story: "...If people are there just to snipe, it's not helpful..." is inappropriate, and for Rolke to use the quote in his story defends Rolke's scorn.
If Garlick thinks Kiss is sniping, then he himself falls short of the listening skills he demands of his pupils.

Garlick's "snipe" comment shows he doesn't know what he's talking about.  And not for the first time either.

Forget Garlick.
Back to Rolke's story heading.

There's a much-feared (among GVAC generally, and bureaucrats specifically) 'bias' against change.  Opposing views are considered by directors, and bureaucrats at RDNO, to be dissention.
Dissention is feared because it can galvanize people to create change.

Director Kiss has created change.  His six-year focus to achieve equity for water users has citizenry clamoring to attend Citizens for Changes to the Master Water Plan meetings and jostling to sign the group's petitions.

So what could have possessed the reporter to use the phrase "make the grade"?
What bugged me about the heading was that it was inappropriate and disrespectful.
Especially when referring to a man whose work as a scientist spanned years and years, and frankly, that academically...he's only a hair shy of a Ph.D degree.  No small feat.

It was the simple act of choosing that entirely inappropriate phrase concerning a highly-educated man that bugged me.

Then there was the same reporter's "Public vs. private" editorial in the same edition (concerning an unrelated topic) where Rolke states "...there's no question that the media, including myself, needs to be accountable for its actions and what we choose to elevate to the status of being newsworthy."  Several paragraphs later, this:  "We would be accused of using our personal relationships...(and those do exist after spending years together) to cover things up."

Choose to elevate?
Yet more Rolke puffery, considering the same page's "Water Plan Scrutiny Needed" (likely written by Rolke's boss) which appropriately refers to Kiss' (and now director Spiers') determination to get the best deal for residents:
"He (Kiss) may not sit on the stakeholder committee,
but Kiss should question and raise concerns anytime at GVAC or Coldstream council.
He can continue to play a vital role in the process, and, in fact,
his not being part of the stakeholder committee
may provide him with some independence."


"That's better," offers Kia, adding "better than Rolke's perennial penchant for avoiding investigative journalism by cutting 'n pasting bureaucrats' press releases." 

Is Rolke mirroring director Macnabb's behaviour at GVAC meetings?

You decide.


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

van der Molen's Analogy

Joel van der Molen's analogy, comparing GVW's tiered and base fee water charges, is excellent.

"Water rates spark a question:

"Imagine the following.  You show up to a gas station to fill your van with gas, and as you start to fill up you notice that the starting point on the pump is $50.

You quickly stop pumping and ask the attendant why the price is not starting at zero.  He states that this is a base fee, which covers the cost of getting the fuel to your vehicle.

"If you wouldn't accept this for fuel,
why are we accepting it for water? " Joel van der Molen

You are a little upset but decide to fill up anyway, as the price per litre doesn't look that bad.

After 20 litres, however, you notice a sharp increase on the pump.

You stop again and ask why the price has jumped.

The attendant says that you are now in tier two, so the price goes up.

He warns you to try and avoid tiers three and four.

This is to encourage you to use less gas.  Unfortunately since you have a large family, you need the van.

So because of the tier system, although you will use less fuel per person than a single occupancy smart car to move from point A to point B, you will pay on average more per litre.

He also mentions that even though their fuel tanks are at normal operating levels for this time of year, they are only allowing their customers to drive three days per week to reduce fuel consumption.

When you ask why, he says that you never know if there will be a good supply in the future.

As you hop in your van to leave, you hear that annoying commercial again.  "Don't drive, let it sit."

This is the annual campaign telling you that Okanagan motorists are the biggest fuel wasters in the country and should just stop driving.

Following the commercial is a news break with the top story being that the base price for gas is set to surge next year because people aren't using enough gas to cover costs.

Now stop imagining.  If you wouldn't accept this for fuel, why are we accepting it for water?"
              Joel van der Molen                    

"So why do we GVW water customers tolerate it?" asks Kia.

Yup, they do.
Elected reps allow bureaucracy to steamroll them -- and us.

So what's the solution?
Since it's too late to demand IQ tests for candidates, how about refusing to re-elect them?

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Integration versus Amalgamation

What's in a word?
The potential for success or failure, in retrospect.
And we all know that hindsight is 20/20.

An interesting and well-written story recently appeared in the Kelowna Daily Courier, written by reporter Ron Seymour.

The story's clincher, in my opinion, was this sentence:  "...And Victoria has mandated the City of Kelowna must formally endorse any multi-million-dollar grant request from an independent water system before it will even be considered, and that surely won't happen if city officials believe integration is a better, more prudent approach."

The gist of the story is that Kelowna's new mayor, Colin Basran, said last week that "...(Kelowna) wants to work with the province and the irrigation districts to develop a long-term plan that leads to an integrated and resilient water system that delivers clean drinking water to all citizens at equitable rates and offers a sustainable supply for agriculturalists."

Let's hope Basran is aware of how GVW has screwed up the North Okanagan water system by chlorinating nearly 90 per cent of agricultural water.
But I digress.


Integration, basically, means "making a whole of parts...a combining".
Amalgamation basically means the same thing.

Obvious now is that the many proponents of Amalgamation several years ago of our over-governed areas used the wrong word.  They should have promoted Integration, not Amalgamation.

Making a whole of parts...a combining.

Or could it be that Colin Basran is on a power-trip, wanting the of water systems to occur on his watch.

"So...had residents used the word 'integration' of communities following KPMG's 'service review' of the City of Vernon," asks an incredulous Kia, "we might have reduced bureaucracy by 60 per cent after all?"

Say it ain't so.

Oh...and don't screw up, Mr. Basran, by looking at GVW for any guidance.
They're not role models, judging by residents' rage over our area's horrendous water costs.

Dedicated People

...with little to gain for themselves except fair play.
And accountability from bureaucrats.

Representatives of Citizens for Changes to the Master Water Plan conducted a public information session at the Village Green Mall on Saturday, September 5th, 2015. 

Janet Green and Terry Mooney of CCMWP at the Village Green Mall

These citizens continue to take time out of busy personal lives to further the CCMWP goal of encouraging an independent consultant to review the Master Water Plan.

Every water user on the Greater Vernon Water system should be grateful for the professionalism and dedication of the folks who comprise the committee.

And, from the 231 new signatories on the petition, residents' gratitude is obvious.

Updates to the petition were forwarded to GVAC chair, Juliette Cunningham.

"Residents are tired of feeding GVW bureaucrats, whose water plan should be relegated to the refuse bin," says Kia.

Economical supply of water? 
See if you can find the "E" word in GVW documents today.
Pack a lunch.

When the Aberdeen Nearly Disappears

You know it's pouring rain there. 

September 19th dump of rain for the Aberdeen Plateau...the water reservoirs.

They've had tons of rain up there.
Additional recent pics:

The water bureaucrats will have to borrow somebody's Humvee to drive up and update this September 1st, 2015 "actual" chart:

"The water bureaucrats must be having conniptions right about now," suggests Kia.

Yeah...our consumption numbers aren't yet in; water meters were read by Coldstream on September 8th.

I'm guessing Highlands will meet Victoria's request for a 30 per cent water reduction.
(Cough, cough).
Now if only Victoria would do what the rest of the province does...not dump raw sewage into the Ocean.
But thanks for your concern, Victoria.


Friday, September 18, 2015

It's that time of year again

...when bureaucrats convene at the Union of B.C. Municipalities meeting on the Coast.

A sub-title of Pat Yourselves On Your Backs would be more appropriate, as this year's intro in their 44-page Program indicates: 

"This year’s annual meeting aims to accelerate the
sharing of stories of excellence among UBCM’s
members. Delegates will be provided with first-hand
accounts of local success stories from large, mid-sized
and small communities."

Stories of excellence?
The halls ought'a be ringing with laughter as bureaucrats share examples of their gouging of residents all over British Columbia.
It's sending taxpayers to the breaking point.
But nary a concern there.
Even with the B.C. Assessment Agency as a sponsor of the UBCM!

The program does make a cursory reference to
 "The increasing demand, though, for new or expanded
services coupled with the need to replace aging
infrastructure is stretching local government finances
like never before."

"Thirty-five years of that insidious lie has killed the middle class," reads the Editorial by John Paul Byrne in the September issue of Okanagan Life magazine, albeit referring to Stephen Harper's federal reign.

OK, the middle class is dead?  or dying?
Then who is--or will be--left to pay for infrastructure in our crumbling communities?
Do bureaucrats not see all the For Lease, For Rent, For Sale signs that dot storefronts on every street?
Elected officials do.

"Desperate times call for desperate measures," adds editor Byrne.

But bureaucrats at the annual UBCM won't be discussing that, will they?

They'll content themselves with self-aggrandizements until all that self-back-patting leaves a bruise.

There's a bright light...on the third day, for 45 minutes, there's actually a session entitled "Are our water systems at risk?"
A 45-minute session about THE most critical issue in our area?

There's also a session entitled "Liability and Risk Management for Elected Officials"...however, the bureaucrat-twin to that (Liability and Risk Management for Bureaucrats) is nowhere to be found.

Oh yeah...that's right.
Bureaucrats are like the weatherman.
They can be wrong 90 per cent of the time and still keep their jobs.

Meeting topics--decidedly all warm and fuzzy--begin on page 6 of the link provided above.

"Bureaucrats are jostling for merit increases in their performance reviews," offers Kia, "versus actually solving years-old problems."

And elected officials are there to give credence to the sham.

Oh yes...GVAC chair Juliette Cunningham plans to speak to Minister Fassbender about mussels.

Stahl's Palpable Frustration

Many residents agree with this person, judging from overheard conversations at coffee shops, golf courses, restaurants and bar patios.
And not just recently either.

B.J. Stahl's letter to the editor, published September 18th by the Morning Star, hits the nail squarely on its head.

Only select sentences (on the water plan/financing topic) will be included below:

"Running RDNO is like running your household.
They should only be allowed
to mortgage a percentage of their income.
If citizens ran their houses like
 the local governments, we would all be bankrupt
and in the poor house."

"Living in the Regional District of North Okanagan for the past 20 years, my first observation was the No. 1 priority in the area was sewer and water.

From 1995 to 2000, nothing was done but then all hell broke loose.  First, we built an arena and then next we built a performing arts centre and a library (obsolete).  Still no sewer or water.

"We need a water plan using water from Okanagan Lake.
  I hear rumours that we don't have a water license to take water from the lake.
 Demand one."

Finally a make-shift water plant to the tune of $20 million -- a complete waste of money.  Next comes the master water plan for about $70 million.  Luckily, it was voted down.

Today the master water plan has reared its ugly head again.  They want citizens to go on a master water board.  Why?  To justify their actions.  What do these citizens know about water?  First of all, fire some water experts.  Do we want another Duteau Creek (say no more)?

We need a water plan using water from Okanagan Lake.  I hear rumours that we don't have a water license to take water from the lake.  Demand one.

The lake belongs to the people of B.C. Let's do it right or don't do it at all.

The point I am trying to make is the only person who had the foresight to see what the area's top priority is was Gyula Kiss.

Running RDNO is like running your household.  They should only be allowed to mortgage a percentage of their income.  If the citizens ran their houses like the local governments, we would all be bankrupt and in the poor house.  

I agree the projects are needed but let's get our projects in priority and what part of our tax income can be used for mortgages, and live with it."
                     B.J. Stahl                                                                         

"During the last local election, a Vernon candidate was quoted as saying the Regional District of North Okanagan--and its governance--is dysfunctional," Kia reminds readers.

Bang on analysis.
From Stahl and Kia.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Disgust with the Canadian Senate

Ah...the electioneering.
The federal election is a long campaign this time...October 19th, 2015 is voting day.

The electioneering brings up thoughts of the Senate again, despite purposely missing the nightly news.
I am frankly disgusted with them.
And disgusted by them.
The Senate, not the nightly news, although that's occasionally a close second.

Yes, it was back in July when the Canadian House of Commons almost unanimously passed Bill C-518.

Some people are aware that the almost unanimously passed Bill then failed.
Guess where? The Senate of course!

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation recently sent out a newsletter which included:

"Bill C-518, the law that would revoke
 the taxpayer-funded pension
 for criminal politicians
 was killed in the Senate this past summer,
 even after being passed
 nearly unanimously in the House of Commons."

"Under the proposed legislation, any MP or senator convicted of an indictable offence that carries a minimum sentence of two years in prison would only keep what they put into the pension plan, losing the generous government contribution.
But while the offence must carry at least a two year sentence, the convicted parliamentarian doesn’t need to have served that long to be penalized," reads The Globe and Mail.

Let's see if Trudeau and Mulcair will offer to reintroduce the bill--in its original form--as part of their election platforms.

"That's akin to the wolf designing the chicken house," grins Kia.

The Federal Conservatives won't forget...

We're all keen to have young people go out and vote.
Is it any wonder they do not?

Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Masterfully Diagnostic Gyula Kiss

He's a professional.
Sure to understand complex issues through analysis.
Plus the increasingly rare commodity of common sense.

He also has the grit to see through the smoke 'n mirrors so typical within the Greater Vernon Water bureaucracy.

This blog has received Mr. Kiss' permission to reproduce, in its entirety (including public comments), his outstanding blog entry, which follows verbatim:

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Water supply review. Are we really short of water in Greater Vernon?

Greater Vernon Water Utility instituted Stage 1 water conservation measures indicating that our water supply is in danger of running short.
Obviously, there are consequences of such measures in terms of budgetary shortfalls, business activities and inconvenience to domestic and business customers.

Using the information presented below I believe that we are reasonably well off with our water supply and our customers were quite responsible users of water if for no other reasons they were frugal with their money. So read the presentation below and decide whether or not my information is credible.

Figure on below  the Duteau Creek reservoir levels on July 15, 2015.
Figure 1

Figure 1 above demonstrates the status of the Duteau Creek reservoir on July 15, 2015 provided by GVWU staff at the August 6 GVAC meeting. The August 1 level was penciled in by staff as well.

Note the total capacity of the reservoir at slightly over 18,000 ML (18,000,000 cubic meters). On August 1 it contained between 12,000 to 12,500 ML's of water.

Figure 2 

Agriculture irrigation ends on September 15. Based on the above two figures it is unlikely to have water shortages at the end of the irrigation season.

There is more. The 2012 Master Water Plan was designed based on estimated domestic water demands from 2011 to 2052 as demonstrated by Table 1 below. According to those estimates domestic water demand in 2011 should have been 9,670 ML and by 2052 it would increase to 13,360 ML. The MWP was sized based on these estimates. However, the consultants also provided a Technical Memorandum suggesting methods to reduce consumption. 
Unfortunately, these recommendations were not considered in sizing the MWP system. We actually paid for a plan that is over sized. The real consumption for the years 2011-2014 is depicted in Table 2. While some over sizing is desirable one must also consider the cost implications of an over sizing of 52%. However, that is not the point. The point is that the customers have consumed well below the projected consumption levels and it is not necessary to punish them further with an additional 10% consumption reduction.
Table 1
As demonstrated by Table 2 below the actual consumption during the four years from 2011 to 2014 was only about 61% of what was predicted.

Table 2 
Table 3 below demonstrates that the agricultural consumption levels were even more significantly lower lower than what was allocated by the MWP. Instead of using 17,400 ML the actual consumption for 2011-2014 averaged at 39% of predicted or 6,823 ML.

The forgoing demonstrate that both domestic and agriculture consumption are well below that of expected. The question is then: how can we be short of water when we only use 61% of the predicted domestic consumption and 39% of allocated agricultural consumption? As was shown above the Duteau Creek reservoir holds 18,000ML of water and we use an average of slightly over 6,800 ML per year. Duteau could easily provide the actual annual agricultural demand plus the small volume of domestic supply.

Staff also revealed that they are utilizing the Kalamalka source more in order to save Duteau water. That means that we probably use some Kalamalka water for crop irrigation. I believe it would be worth exploring what really is happening with our water supply. 

One additional water source is Goose Lake with an annual storage capacity of 2,360 ML/a. That would be an additional source to supplement the agriculture water supply.

Table 3
Table 4 below is the actual consumption table from the GVWU Annual Report 2014. Note the total water consumption (domestic and agriculture combined) for 2014 was 12,630,961 cubic meters. Compare it to the Duteau reservoir capacity at 18,000,000 cubic meters and the available water licenses on Kalamalka Lake of 8,800,000 cubic meters. Are we short of water?
 Table 4
 I might be wrong in my assessment even though I used data provided by staff and consultants. If I am wrong please show me where I erred.
Anonymous said...
Its big business telling everyone that we live in a desert and are running out of water, think of all the high paying jobs on the line telling us what bad waterhogs we all are, and how we have less water available than anywhere else in Canada...and that the average person uses 675 l per day. If that were the case the GVWU bank account would be overfilling, just like the dams do every year in this dry desert.....

Friday, September 11, 2015

Uncanny Insight?

There's a saying...

So today's letter to the editor of the Morning Star from M.C.R. Krien doesn't bode well for the Stakeholder Advisory Committee's "work."

'Do we need a committee to tell us that Mother Nature
has graciously supplied us with two huge reservoirs called Kalamalka and Okanagan lakes?'

'Do we need a committee to tell us that every single day,
 millions of gallons of unused fresh water flows from our lakes, rivers and streams into the ocean?'

"Water Plan Prediction:

Please allow me to air my somewhat cynical views on the water plan committee.

First off, I wish to personally thank the individuals from the Citizens for Change(sic) to the Master Water Plan for the unpaid work that they are doing on behalf of all Vernon residents and taxpayers.  We owe each of you a debt of gratitude.  

Secondly I would like to caution all Vernon residents not to be fooled by the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee's call to form a committee on this matter that has been going around for years now.  One of the standard modus operandi of politicians when they are faced with a strong grassroots movement is to stall out that movement any way they can.

Do we need a committee to tell us that Mother Nature has graciously supplied us with two huge reservoirs called Kalamalka and Okanagan lakes?

Do we need a committee to tell us that every single day, millions of gallons of unused fresh water flows from our lakes, rivers and streams into the ocean?

Here is my cynical prognosis on the water committee.

The GVAC will stack the committee with compliant members.  The committee will then take several months mulling the obvious facts in hopes that the grass roots movement will just die a natural death.

In the end, because this committee will have the illusionary appearance of legitimacy, the committee will agree to a few minor changes from the failed referendum, which the committee will try to sell to the public as great compromises.

In the end they will pass, without referendum, almost the exact same $70 million master water plan that the public rejected (just like we ended up with a multi-million-dollar library, in an electronic book age, which had been voted down in referendum).

Of course, we all know, just like the running track, that the $70 million will end up at $80, $90 or $100 million or more, but of course once started, it will be too late to reverse.

And the politicians will have a couple of years or so in their new four-year terms to divert the public's anger away from their unpopular decisions.

I hope I never have to say I told you so."              M.C.R. Krien

"There's a saying that hindsight is 20/20," attests Kia.

Unfortunately, yes.
M.C.R. Krien is more realist than cynic.