Recent letters from Bowen Island Municipality and the Cove Bay Water System Public Advisory Committee to the 630 existing users (30 more to come with Belterra Co-Housing) have indicated that our present base cost of $600 per hookup for up to 400 cubic metres of water used annually is insufficient to pay for a proposed Water Filtration Plant. The plant is reported to be needed to meet future drinking water quality guidelines. In two locations, water in the system is re-chlorinated. It is also tested at nine testing stations throughout the Cove Bay distribution system once per week and sent to Vancouver Coastal Health Authority staff to ensure compliance with allowable Federal and Provincial limits for microbial contaminants and microrganisms. We are told that Grafton Lake raw water is of reasonably good quality most of the time but impacted seasonally by turbidity, temperature, and the appearance of Total Organic Carbon (TOC). Occasionally, hardness and colour values do not meet guidelines. An adverse impact of treament by chlorination is reaction with TOC’s to produce disinfection by-products, trihalomethanes (THM) or haloacetic acids (HAA).
A literature search suggests that, instead fo building a Filtration Plant at an estimated cost of $7.5 million plus $2500 in annual additional operating costs, a reasonable alternative to simple chlorination is to replace this with Chlorine dioxide (ClO2), which has the effect of adding more oxygen molecules to the water, reducing turbidity and binding up the organic matter before it enters the drinking water stream.
Linus Pauling, Nobel Laureate for his work on DNA, is one of the quoted scientists who applied this system to drinking water in New York State as long ago as the 1960s. I conveyed this information to municipal staff by email, with references, but have not heard back.
In terms of costs, our present base rate is $600 for up to 400 cubic meters of water used per year per hook-up, or $1.50 per cubic metre.
The official letters received by Cove Bay water users indicate that we may be the fortunate recipients of a 2/3 funding grant from the recently-announced Building Canada Fund to defray the costs of construction of a Water Filtration Plant. If so, our Parcel Tax addition would be as low as $140 per year for 25 years, not counting operating costs. If the grant is not approved, our parcel taxes, included in the 2014 - 2018 Five-Year Financial Plan adopted by Council last month would mean an additonal $524 per hookup, an approximatley 20% increase to our annual Property Taxes for Bowen Island municipal use. On top of this, the proposed Offical Community Plan and Land Use Bylaw amendments for Lot 2 development contemplates an additional 2% Parcel Tax per year for all Bowen property owners to pay for servicing those lands and municipal development. There is a gross figure as well of $2.5 million for new Firehall design to be borrowed in 2015 included in the Five-Year Financial Plan, presumably to be hooked up the the Cover Bay Water System.
In my opinion, these are all well-meaning but disjointed ideas. Collectively, they add up to huge increases in user-fees and taxes to the ratepayers of Bowen Island without consideration of more reasonable alternatives, or the cumulative, crippling financial effect on those of us who have to pay.