Occasionally, letters to the editor offer interesting and reflective opinions.
Letters in yesterday's Morning Star were a welcome break from the customary litany of lint.
The first is from Dana Mills:
"I find the current master water plan presented to Vernon and district taxpayers to be very limited in scope and lacking innovative thought.
The Regional District of North Okanagan and Interior Health Authority are telling you to borrow $70 million because the need is exigent, but what's really needed is time for a much more critical review of the actual situation.
I can't understand why RDNO and their "experts" are so adamant about separation and large, single or dual treatment facilities as opposed to a more distributed approach. It appears that the existing treated water from the Duteau facility is actually pretty good most of the time.
By removing chlorination and other disinfection from there, the water would be cheaper and could still be used for both agricultural and domestic purposes without significant changes to existing infrastructure or operations. The Duteau plant is more than what's needed but the point is, it's already there, in operation, and paid for (sort of).
With minor system upgrades, a few simple, small-scale facilities could then be installed to finish the treated water already available. The water would then be potable for introduction to your various domestic distribution systems.
Primarily, these would be disinfection stations to provide a barrier and a residual to inactivate pathogens. Trihalomethane (fact sheets here) problems, if you really have any now, should actually go away due to reduced dosage and contact time. Industrial and agricultural users could easily filter and disinfect on-site if required; a lot already do.
That still leaves the turbidity event problem. It seems to me that turbidity guidelines from the existing Duteau plant are exceeded for only a couple of short periods during each year, and these events generally fall outside times of heavy agricultural use.
I think RDNO could deal with these events at an operational level by using a different, unaffected source and maybe drawing down the potable water stored in existing reservoirs.
In other words, turn off the Duteau water available to domestic users until the event is over and the turbidity levels are again acceptable. If you do not actually use turbid water for drinking water then you are not technically violating IHA demands. This should allow RDNO at least a decade to develop a much more cost effective master water plan, and there's no harm in asking IHA for a variance either.
I know, I know -- fire flows, etc. would be affected but these are just excuses. Also note that treatment plants in a box are already available. A number of world class companies are making some very good products and a lot of research is ongoing to make treatment more environmentally friendly.
Please seriously consider other options and vote no in the upcoming referendum. IHA is not going to risk a public relations nightmare by immediately forcing you to spend the money anyway.
Don't be swayed by RDNO scare tactics -- your water is already safe. I was raised in Vernon and my siblings and 85 year old mother still reside there.
They tell me Vernon is becoming a very expensive place to live."
"Hear, hear!" applauds Kia, adding "Coldstream councillor Kiss requested a peer review of the new master water plan, but was denied. He wasn't supported by RDNO--nor, for that matter--his own mayor, who waffled under the power of the advisory committee and regional district."
The second letter is from Donna Lochhead:
"If I could change some things in this city, I would start at Vernon city hall.
Ya ya, I know all of you folks out there that would say the cost to change would far outweigh any savings we would see but...
- Smaller buses would use less fuel. Less fuel, more economical, and perhaps fewer traffic jams in the downtown core at peak periods.
- Stop sending fire trucks out every time an ambulance is called only to have them turn around and head back to the fire hall because they are not needed. Less fuel, more savings.
- Pay firemen one rate when they are actually putting out fires and another when they are on call waiting at the fire hall. I'm sure you would find savings when you look at their salaries versus calls.
- Put some money into the not so pretty arteries of this city. Update ancient (I'm not even calling it old anymore) infrastructure. It's the stuff you can't see that needs the most work. Spend less on road calming, road diets, pretty roundabouts and more on sidewalks, sewer and water lines.
- Go back to the clear bag recycling. Put the people back to work that lost their jobs at the recycling depot and help the environment by not driving. Now that Christy Clark and her gang have implemented this new recycling (without any dialogue with the public), I'm waiting for her to raise the gas tax because we now have to drive to the recycling depot to drop off what we use(sic) to be able to leave curbside.
- Find opportunities to work with developers on affordable housing and business leaders on creating jobs.
Oh boy, what if?"
"Disagree with the suggestion for an 'on-call' fireman rate... ambulance attendants get only $2.00 an hour while sitting in the station waiting for calls...nobody can raise a family on that pittance," states Kia.
What's that maxim about ratios of letters received?
Something about...for each letter...thousands (who did not write) concur...