Hudson’s Hope residents still facing uncertainty over water source

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HUDSON’S HOPE, B.C. — Hudson’s Hope residents are still facing uncertainty about what their future holds for a safe, consumable water source. 

After months of boil water notices and do not consume orders due to constant issues with the town’s water treatment plant, the district announced its plan to return to river-sourced water, with McElhanney as its engineering consultant.

At an open house hosted by the district Tuesday evening, Mark DeGagne, senior water treatment specialist for McElhanney, explained the issues with the current water treatment plant and described both permanent and temporary solutions for the town’s water source.

Phase one and two of McElhanney’s temporary solution includes installing a pumping system to extract water and convey it to the plant and installing UV units for Ultraviolet Disinfection. 

Phase three of the temporary solution is ballasted flocculation, which is a high-rate clarification process. 

McElhanney’s permanent solution is to pump water from Site C’s reservoir, once BC Hydro begins flooding the Peace River.

Community Concerns 

Many community members attended the open house and voiced their concerns after DeGagne’s presentation. 

Currently, from the direction of Northern Health, Hudson’s Hope is once again under a boil water notice. The district has been supplying each household with one five-gallon water bottle per day, with potable water purchased from Chetwynd. 

At the open house, one community member pointed out that just six kilometres outside of town, BC Hydro has a water treatment plant within the Peace Canyon Dam. 

This raised the question, “would it be more cost-effective to the community, as well as BC Hydro, for residents to be able to fill their water bottles at the dam?”  

DeGagne’s said it seemed like a “reasonable, common-sense approach,” but he couldn’t provide a direct answer at that time. 

Caitlin Vince, a member of the community-formed Hudson’s Hope Water Committee, said the committee was pleased overall with McElhanney’s presentation and felt they were provided ample information on how the new plant will work, but no cost projections or solid timelines. 

Vince also mentioned the possibility of toxic chemicals once the reservoir is flooded. 

“Erosion from reservoir flooding will increase the amount of mercury and heavy metals in the water,” said Vince. 

“The McElhanney representative has said that this will “likely not” be a problem. The uncertainty of this statement is concerning.”

Another community member expressed curiosity about who financial responsibility for the new plant would fall upon: the district or BC Hydro.

Mayor Dave Heiberg responded candidly, saying BC Hydro had been “very supportive,” and the district had been “working very hard with BC Hydro’s team on the technical side.”

“There’s a lot of things that need to be done, and we’re really trying to expedite that process,” said Heiberg. 

“On the financial side, council has made the commitment to move forward with the resolutions to move from phase one to phase two. We are in discussions for reimbursement with BC Hydro. Those discussions are ongoing and I’ll say they’re very productive.”

Thoughts from the Mayor

After the open house, Heiberg continued to voice his appreciation for BC Hydro’s support. 

“On the financial end, if you think about it, BC Hydro spent almost five million just on the old plant,” said Heiberg.

“Then they came up with $500,000 to help us out in the summertime. Then they came up with over two million to help with this process. Now, we can’t wait for the funding, so the district went ahead, and mobilized these resolutions with the funding from BC Hydro and in consultation with BC Hydro for reimbursement.”

Heiberg explained there is a financial commitment from BC Hydro, but the commitment is not formal at this time due to remaining details in the works. He was unable to provide an exact estimate of what the temporary and permanent solutions will cost.

Heiberg emphasized his admiration for his community’s patience and understanding through the lengthy, difficult process of reestablishing a safe water source within the district. 

“The community has had some very, very good questions and has been very respectful and patient in a very impatient environment,” said Heiberg. 

“Let me tell you, our community is very awesome.” 

The mayor also expressed appreciation for operators and staff working to maintain the water treatment plant and the issues it continuously presents.

“Our operators and our staff have just been a dream. They’ve been digging in and getting things done,” said Heiberg. 

“Staff have been putting hours and hours of time in with the consultant to get to where we’re at. We’ve got two engineers on staff that can provide supporting background in those discussions. Myself and most of the rest of council – we’re just trying to understand it in Lehman’s terms.”

More to come from Water Recovery Committee

This is a developing story and will continue to provide updates as promptly as possible. A member of the Hudson’s Hope Water Committee is scheduled to appear on our January 13th episode of MooseTalks and will share their thoughts on Tuesday night’s open house. 

MooseTalks is live-streamed on’s Facebook page every Friday at 10:00 a.m. 

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