North Peace couple appealing lost water source

Photo: Concerned resident Melody Blarney presents her request to the Regional District on Thursday afternoon – Christine Rumleksie/Energeticcity.ca

A North Peace couple is appealing to the Peace River Regional District after losing their water supply.

Melody and David Blaney live along Highway 29 between Fort St. John and Hudson’s Hope. They don’t have running water in their home, so they use the nearby Watson Spring for everything from drinking water, to laundry, to brushing their teeth.

One day in the summer, when Melody went to collect some water, she discovered that the small facility had been decommissioned by the Regional District. Melody says she was shocked to see her only source of water shut down. [asset|aid=1903|format=mp3player|formatter=asset_bonus|title=2bf5be9fe8383b0f88d4d2a9730db635-Melody-1_1_Pub.mp3]

The water system in question is basically a gravity-fed host, which is tapped into a natural spring. It’s used by a lot of residents in the surrounding rural area, for both human and agriculture consumption. So, Melody collected more than 100 signatures and brought a petition to save the Watson Spring to the Regional District board meeting on Thursday afternoon.  She’s hoping to convince PRRD directors to reconsider their decision to decommission the spring.

Chair Karen Goodings says a form of bacteria had been found in the water, and while no statistics were available, it presented a liability issue to the board. So, the District was asked to choose between two options, presented by the Ministry and Northern Health. The district chose to decommission the spring, rather than treating the water with chemicals, like chlorine.

Goodings says the board didn’t think residents would want the natural spring water to be treated. Sheila Withrow from Northern Health adds, the Drinking Water Protection Act went under review by the Ombudsman, after changes made four years ago weren’t being enforced. [asset|aid=1904|format=mp3player|formatter=asset_bonus|title=2bf5be9fe8383b0f88d4d2a9730db635-Withrow-1_1_Pub.mp3]

Goodings says the water source could still be re-commissioned if another group or organization decides to take over the water license.

However, David Blaney says he believes the Regional District should be the one looking out for the rural residents in the area. As for what the Blaneys will do for water… [asset|aid=1905|format=mp3player|formatter=asset_bonus|title=2bf5be9fe8383b0f88d4d2a9730db635-Melody-2_1_Pub.mp3]

The Regional District has advised the Blaneys to take their case to MLA Pat Pimm, which they say they will consider.