Challenging the Chlorination assumptions

A partial excerpt of the notice to City of Chilliwack from Fraser Health Authority reads as follows:

Transient pressure and flow regimes are inevitable in a system of this scale. These pressure events and surges have the potential to allow intrusions to occur in the distribution system as was noted during investigation of contamination events.

Fraser Health Authority appears to raise concerns that are hypothetical, not based in occurrence. Having noted this potential for intrusion during the FHA investigations seems to imply some new discovery, when in fact these things were known. The City’s water treatment system is a matter of public record, and FHA would have been well aware of its components prior to its investigation of the isolated contamination events. Bringing this up in conjunction with those investigations smacks of case-building, and makes one wonder at the coincidence of the order to Chilliwack mere weeks after a previous order to the community of White Rock is challenged with, “Why us, and not Chilliwack?” (Based on Letter to Editor commentary in the Chilliwack Times from White Rock resident Phil Le Good.)

We have seen safe operation of Chilliwack’s Water Supply for many years without incident; the City has invested substantially in creating and maintaining a resource we residents value highly. This comprehensive alternative treatment has been deemed acceptable until now, and in our opinion nothing significant has happened to change that. Citing that Chilliwack is expected to grow in population by 1.5% a year or 15% in the next ten years is not significant; on the contrary it is fairly modest in comparison with typical demands on urban infrastructure. We do not see logistics that suggest our water is suddenly at an elevated level of contamination risk.

If I were to distill the commentary I’ve read from Dr. Markus Lem thus far (notwithstanding some of the more frivolous remarks about not letting his daughter drink the water he does, and so on), I would say that FHA thus far has acted on the hypothetical only, and expects Chilliwack residents to accept that foundation of reason. The presence of coliform organisms such as E. coli merely warn of the possibility pathogens may have reached the water supply – they are not proof. I doubt there is any, as we have been presented only with rhetoric.

We ask in the strongest terms possible that FHA re-visit this issue, and rescind the chlorination order in favour of the alternatives the City has proposed – as we as a community are reassured there is no overriding risk at hand.

~Wayne Froese
Chilliwack resident and water aficianado

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