Alberni Valley Local Events

 

Below is my response to Tim Sheldan regarding water protection for springs and their source. 


----- Original Message -----
From: Reid Robinson
To: Executive Division Office, Forests FOR:EX
Cc: For.minister@gov.bc.ca ; Paul.S.Knowles@gov.bc.ca
Sent: Friday, September 26, 2008 12:14 AM
Subject: Re: 114722 - Water quality

Congratulations as Assistant Deputy Minister Tim, you've come a long way since we last meet.  Thank-you for responding to my letter of July 5, 2008 to the Honourable Pat Bell, Minister of Forest and Range regarding drinking water and other related karst resource issues in general.

 In your response you state; 'All water sources used for public consumption, regardless of being located on private land, are regulated under the Drinking Water Protection Act (DWPA) which is now administered by the Ministry of Healthy Living and Sports and was put into place after the tragedies in Walkerton, Ontario in 2000'.
 
If the intent of the DWPA is to regulate all water sources, then why did Water licensed Holders in 2002 and again in 2006 repeatedly defend their karst groundwater supply against groundbreaking and other threatening activities?

 In addition, during August 2007, BC Hydro entered onto Island Timberlands property to replace power poles which required groundbreaking activity including road repair.  Some of the pressure treated pole sites for example were drilled between adjacent sinkholes and fine sand and gravel was placed on previously washout roadbeds.  As a direct result, the karst groundwater supply experienced higher than normal sediment loads a few months later, causing the Health authority to issue a Boil Water Order.  Also, water users are now concerned that the toxic wood preservative used on the new power poles will soon leach into their drinking water supply. 

 Karst terrain, related features and/or resources located on private or Crown land need to be regulated and protected to prevent utilities, such as those with property right-of-ways, from negatively impacting public karst resource values out of ignorance or lack of specific legislated directive.

 In the Alberni/Clayoquot Regional District (A/CRD) numerous domestic water supplies depend on groundwater from springs which in most cases, if not all, have a hydrologic connection to Karst, (the transitional zone from surface recharge to groundwater storage and flow). 

 Under Part 4 Section 23.1(a) of the DWPA, the term 'a well recharge zone' is quite specific and appears to be included as a result of the tragedies in Walkerton, Ontario.  In contrast, the term 'a drinking water source' is quite broad and general.  Specific terms in the DWPA are required in support of MOFR's legal responsibility to protect forest resources, forest district Regulation orders, as well as address the public's expectation for the protection of drinking groundwater sources from karst systems (plus any contributing non-karst recharge zones). 

 In particular, current DWPA prohibitions fail to specifically identify Karst as the principle storage and recharge source for springs, whereas the recharge zone for wells is protected by regulation.  It may be true that government need not create new DWPA regulation but instead strengthen Section 23.1(a).

 I trust the above rational will move government to update the DWPA by introducing karst specific recharge zone protection for associated springs utilized as a drinking water source.

 In closing, I've decided to leave this matter in your hands and await government's response on the issues raised regarding the need to update the DWPA.  As to your other points, I will continue to work with SIFD staff and other Ministries to develop an order under the Regulation to manage and protect Karst resources within the SIFD.

 Best Wishes,

 Reid Robinson   

 

----- Original Message -----
 
From: Executive Division Office, Forests FOR:EX
To: Reid Robinson
Sent: Tuesday, September 02, 2008 9:58 AM
Subject: RE: 114722 - Water quality

 
Thank you for your letter of July 5, 2008, to the Honourable Pat Bell, Minister of Forests and Range, regarding the quality of drinking water on private forest land.  I have been asked to respond.

In order to maintain the quality of drinking water, your letter suggests there is a need to regulate and possibly protect Karst features and resources occurring on private land.  In conclusion, you discuss the management of Karsts features near Fossil Park and in the South Island Forest District, in general.
 
All water sources used for public consumption, regardless of being located on private land, are regulated under the Drinking Water Protection Act, which is now administered by the Ministry of Healthy Living and Sports, and was put in place after the tragedies in Walkerton, Ontario in 2000.  The Ministry of Forests and Range is not mandated to protect water supplies on private land.  Government believes that the Drinking Water Protection Act meets the public expectation for the protection of drinking water sources.  Consequently, there is no need to create a new regulation.

As you point out, the ministry has the responsibility to manage and protect Karst resources in provincial forests and the Government Action Regulation (the Regulation) provides for a possible means for local district managers to address the needs for Karst management.  I should also mention, it is up to the individual decision-makers, in this case the district manager, to determine how the Regulation orders are worded and enforced.
 
South Island Forest District staff have informed me that they are working closely with the Central Island Caving Club, the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts and the Ministry of Environment to develop and propose an order under the Regulation to manage and protect Karst resources in the South Island Forest District, including the Karst features found in the vicinity of Fossil Park.

If you have further concerns, or wish to provide input into the ongoing process in the South Island Forest District, I encourage you to contact Dan Biggs, Stewardship Officer at 250-731-3049.
 
Thank you again for writing.

Yours truly,

T. R. (Tim) Sheldan
Assistant Deputy Minister
Operations Division
 
pc:        The Honourable Pat Bell, Minister of Forests and Range
            Scott Fraser, MLA, Alberni-Qualicum
            Paul Knowles, District Manager, South Island Forest District
            Dan Biggs, Stewardship Officer, South Island Forest District

 

From: Reid Robinson
 
Sent: Monday, July 7, 2008 12:54 AM
To: Forestry RoundTable FOR:EX; Minister, FOR FOR:EX
Cc: Knowles, Paul S FOR:EX; Heath, Dick ENV:EX; Penny Cote; Fraser, Scott
Subject: 114722 - Forestry Roundtable submission

 
Please consider our July 5, 2008 letter to Hon. Pat Bell as our submission on Karst to the Forestry Roundtable.
 
Thanks
 
 Reid Robinson
 
Local Alberni Valley Issues Alberni Environmental Coalition