Nicholson residents won’t support Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) residents to develop a community water system, or to conduct further groundwater testing.
Without community support, the CSRD does not have the mandate to develop a water treatment system in the area at this time.
Ecoscape Environmental Consultants Ltd. was hired by the CSRD to conduct the monitoring, with the company releasing a summary of their findings on the regional district website this past week.
“The water is contaminated. This is a safety issue for residents,” said CSRD Area A director Karen Cathcart in a press release from the CSRD.
“We’ve reached out to residents and given options. At what point do we go to the province and say we need help? I’m at this point.”
The water in Nicholson has been monitored for over a year now, with the CSRD partnering with Interior Health to resolve concerns about fluctuating levels of nitrites and biological contaminants.
The concern comes from monitoring that occurred at the Nicholson Aquifer between 2005 and 2013, which revealed the aquifer was potentially being contaminated by septic fields in the area, according to the CSRD.
Residents were informed of this, but there was minimal public support for taking further action.
In 2017, nitrate levels at the Nicholson Elementary School measured above the maximum allowable concentration as set out in the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality. A “Do Not Consume” advisory was issued for the school.
As a result, in February 2019 CSRD directors agreed to fund a $10,000 contribution to a one-year monitoring program, with the CSRD administering its delivery and sharing results with the community. Interior Health also contributed $5,000 towards the project.
It has been recommended the most feasible option to bring safe water to Nicholson would be an extension of Golden’s water system, which would cost approximately $15 million. The CSRD intended to apply for provincial and federal grants for this project.
But the CSRD won’t move forward with a solution, including the monitoring of groundwater or conducting work related to providing potable water, unless “broad and sufficient support” from the community is received.
All information related to the Nicholson Aquifer, past testing results and the recent feasibility study for a water treatment system can be found at the CSRD’s Nicholson Water Quality Monitoring webpage.
The Nicholson aquifer is seperate from the Golden aquifer and seperate from the testing that was done by GoldenKey Investments Group as a part of their efforts to bring a water bottling facility to Golden.