Tensions boil over during Hedley water meeting

Following a heated meeting over the water situation in Hedley the chair said she might resign

  • Dec. 21, 2018 1:08 p.m.

At least one member of the Hedley Improvement District board is contemplating resigning in the midst of what some residents are calling a public relations problem relating to a do not consume water order.

Following a tense meeting where a question and answer period was held, current chair Lynn Wells told the Review she was considering resigning the position she’s held for eight years.

“It will probably happen. This has been very difficult,” she said.

Higher than allowable coliform levels were detected in Hedley water on Dec. 7 prompting the do not consume order from Interior Health. Residents have been critical of the HID notification system as it took several days to get test results and some people were not notified until more than 24 hours after the do not consume water was issued.

Related: Water samples good, Hedley awaits drinking water A-OK

Wells noted that the board has been down one trustee since the fall and was lacking in some aspects including keeping the website up to date, using social media to communicate and other areas.

“This issue has illuminated some gaps for us,” she said.

Repeatedly during the meeting she called for volunteers to help the board and asked if there were experts in fields like public relations, communications that could help devise a plan to inform people faster.

Jennifer Douglass, a longtime resident of Hedley was dismayed when a letter she wrote and another letter written by a concerned citizen about the issue to the HID was not put into the correspondence of the meeting.

“You guys have a public relations problem. Your communication has been terrible,” she said. “This is part of public relations and being interactive with the community. I’m trying to talk to you and communicate with you and you don’t even put my letter in the minutes. You’ve said you need to work on the website, and you need to work on a Facebook page, but this is one of the examples right now related to public relations. There’s a problem with your public relations.”

Questions about how the problem happened and if a proactive approach by the HID would have reduced the amount of contaminated water consumed also came up.

Related: UPDATE: Hedley residents will be without water for at least one week

Although Wells said the investigation into what and how the water in Hedley was contaminated with higher than regulated coliform levels was still underway, it was stated during the meeting that True Consulting had hired an outside contractor to do work on the community’s intake pipe.

With the loss of pressure while the work was being done and debris possibly falling into the pipe contamination occurred.

“We are still investigating this so although there’s theories and speculations behind what might have caused the contamination we’re really not at the point of knowing anything for sure,” she said.

Gary Ross, a former longtime water employee at the HID questioned the response from current employees who were hired less than five months ago, wondering why the system wasn’t chlorinated at the first sight of a problem instead of waiting for test results, which took three days.

“Given the water system is very leaky 100,000 gallons per day for 200, 240 people so the system is very leaky. We’re using two to three times what it should be for consumption.You have an event prior to whatever happened in Chute Creek, which led to the depressurization of the system… at that point you should have been thinking about what you needed to do to chlorinate the system, but then you had contamination from your contractors… that would lead to there being 100 per cent chance of contamination,” he said, adding.

“So at that point what you should have done, what we have done in the past … what you should do is immediately chlorinate the system and issue a boil water notice.”

Travis Barck, the current water steward said the contractors in charge of the project did chlorinate parts of the system and had independent test results that passed.

The HID water employees did take water samples, but they took three days to come back.

During the meeting he said he’d been left “an albatross” to try to operate.

Following the meeting Barck said the system is in extreme disrepair as noted by Ross in the meeting by how much it leaks.

“That’s why I’m really pushing for them to look at putting together an asset management plan so we can be proactive instead of reactive. This system needs a lot of work,” he said.

A bi-election for the empty HID position is being held in late January.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta vehicles allegedly damaged in Summerland

Lug nuts loosened, windows smashed in several instances in Okanagan community

Two people die in outdoor shower, in Tulameen

Couple was attending a long weekend gathering

VIDEO: Crews in Summerland film Christmas parade in July

Filming, on July 31, took place during the hottest days of 2020

UPDATE: More personnel at Dry Lake fire, 43 properties remain under evacuation alert

Wildfire has been burning out of control north of Princeton for three days

Princeton man faces charges after allegedly receiving ‘drunk driving’ lesson

The incident happened in the early morning hours of Friday, Aug. 1

B.C. records 146 new COVID-19 cases through long weekend

More that 28 people tested positive for the virus each day since Friday

Canucks tame Minnesota Wild 4-3 to even NHL qualifying series

J.T. Miller leads Vancouver with goal and an assist

COVID-19 vaccine efforts provide hope but no silver bullet to stop pandemic: Tam

There are more than two dozen vaccines for COVID-19 in clinical trials around the world

Passengers escape unharmed from destructive houseboat fire in Shuswap

Cause of blaze on Mara Lake under investigation, flames erupt at 2 a.m. Aug. 4

Interior Health reports nine new cases of COVID-19, 149 linked to Kelowna

Nine new cases were reported in the Interior Health region over the long weekend’s four reporting periods

Former Kelowna resident makes fundraising goal for cancer fertility treatments

Rebecca Hamilton recieved a boost in a battle against cancer - $25,000 for post chemo treatments

Study shines light on what makes LGBTQ+ youth feel safe in a community

The study goes beyond looking at school or family supports

Alberta to require masks at schools this fall, but still no mandate in B.C.

B.C. students are also set to return to classrooms in September

UPDATE: Water bombers attack wildfire north of Sicamous above Shuswap Lake

Wildfire BC reports fire is still classified out of control, 25 personnel on ground

Most Read