EDITORIAL: Muddying the waters over drinking water in the Alberni Valley

The Alberni Valley has been hit with a spate of contaminated water advisories…

The Alberni Valley has been hit with a spate of contaminated water advisories in the past few weeks, from Canal Waterfront Park (Canal Beach) and Polly’s Point to Victoria Quay, Papermill Dam on both sides of the Somass River and now a boil water advisory at China Creek Marina and Campground.

While China Creek Campground can trace its water woes to the recent dry-spell-followed-by-heavy-rain weather, no one seems to know why enterococci and E. coli counts have skyrocketed (then went back to normal) at the other locations.

Clean water is serious business in the Alberni Valley. A number of years ago, after repeated boil water advisories and questionable drinking water quality in Beaver Creek, Susan Roth and the late Diana Sparks advocated for better attention to that quality. Their hard work resulted in the provincial 4-3-2-1 drinking water policy to which all municipalities must now abide.

Others are lobbying for better protection of the city’s entire watershed, which the city does not own.

People have questioned whether the contamination is coming from the City of Port Alberni’s sewage lagoon or some other source; the city has done some testing of its storm drains as well as water in front of the outflow to the lagoon and have said everything has come back normal.

Others wonder whether infrastructure to the sewage lagoon is perhaps beginning to fail and contaminating the water from below.

The quality of our water sources should not be left on the shoulders of a few concerned citizens who won’t take no for an answer. These persistent contaminated water advisories should be an alarm bell, not just for citizens but for politicians too.

We should all be concerned about why these contaminated water notices are occurring now. It’s time to be proactive about our water health.

— Alberni Valley News

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