Algae bloom cause of skunky water, council hears

Chris Clegg
South Peace News

Customers in Northern Sunrise County can expect a credit on their water bills in the near future.
Council agreed at its Sept. 28 meeting to refund its customers a $50,000 credit provided by their water provider, NEW water Ltd. after problems arose in late summer with discoloured and foul-smelling water.
NEW water is also providing credits of $6,750 to the Lubicon Lake Band, $10,000 to the Village of Nampa and $20,000 to Woodland Cree First Nation.
Northern Sunrise Council thought it was only fair to pass along the credit to its customers; however, how the money will be dispersed is still being studied by administration.
“It’s been going on two months of bad water,” said Marie Reine – Judah Councillor Dan Boisvert.
“How do you think we should disperse it [$50,000]?” asked Reeve Carolyn Kolebaba.
It’s up to us.”
“I think we should credit [customers],” replied Cadotte Lake – Little Buffalo Councillor Gaylene Whitehead.
“How?” asked Kolebaba.
“Adding it to their water bills,” replied Whitehead.
St. Isidore Councillor Norm Duval agreed it was the fair thing to do saying it would amount to a one-month credit on the basic rate.
CAO Cindy Millar, who informed council they have 680 utility accounts, asked how would customers who used the truck fill be credited.
And, Boisvert noted after doing some quick math, there would still be about $22,000 left after the refund proposed by Duval, who agreed saying a larger refund may be possible if the $50,000 is not spent.
“It should go back to the people who use it [water],” said Duval.
“We owe it to our customers to communicate sooner than later,” added Boisvert regarding council’s plans.
A refund proposal will be brought back to council at the next meeting.
NEW water’s board of directors met Sept. 23 to hear what happened regarding the water. The first problem arose Aug. 4 when an overfeed of chlorine occurred at the water treatment plant. The higher than usual dose upset the balance ratio of chlorine to ammonia which resulted in odour and taste issues. The problem has since been fixed.
The second issue was an algae bloom in the reservoir that occurred from the extremely hot weather during the summer. As a result, water was pulled from the river intake into the plant for treatment which resulted in the removal of the odour and poor taste thereby bypassing the reservoir. The problem is the entire lines throughout the system needed to be flushed before improvement occurred.
NEW water added in its letter that at all times the water was safe for consumption despite the smell and passed all provincial testing.
Kolebaba said the algae bloom was unprecedented due to the record breaking heat.
“Never had that degree of heat for that period of time,” she noted.
“The algae bloom wasn’t expected,” said Duval.
“Two words for what happened,” said Boisvert.
“It’s called global warming.”

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