On Oct. 20, 2018 the citizens of the Cowichan Valley voted for establishing the Drinking Water and Watershed Protection Service Establishment Bylaw (#4202). We thought that this bylaw would be used to protect our water supplies. It has been known for many years that the wells at three commercial establishments on Fisher Road, Cobble Hill had nitrate levels greatly exceeding the Health Canada Drinking Water Guidelines. These wells and surrounding CVRD monitoring wells have been monitored by a number of agencies, including the CVRD, in the past. The Cobble Hill Aquifer Interagency Task Group (CHAITG) was established to deal with this nitrate contamination and this Task Group commissioned Western Water Associates Ltd. (WWAL) to carry out a review of past studies. Surprisingly, this review did not review aquifer nitrite levels, only nitrate levels. Nitrite is a bigger concern than nitrate since nitrite can convert the oxygen-carrying hemoglobin to methemoglobin which does not carry oxygen. Thus, nitrite can cause tissue oxygen deficiency which is particularly problematical for infants and children since it can stunt their mental and physical growth.
Environment and Climate Change Canada has issued hefty fines to the University of British Columbia and CIMCO Refrigeration for releasing ammonia-laden water into a tributary of the Fraser River in Vancouver. According to a written statement, UBC was fined $1.2 million and CIMCO $800,000 stemming from a complaint about an ammonia odour at an outfall ditch connected to Booming Ground Creek in Pacific Spirit Regional Park on Sept. 12, 2014. The ministry says UBC and CIMCO were fixing the refrigeration system at Thunderbird Arena at the university's Vancouver campus when they purged residual ammonia vapours from the system into a storm drain that flowed into a ditch and then the creek.
Nicole Hancock, the executive director of the Safe Drinking Water Foundation, said systems exist that would take care of all contaminants and produce water that "would taste and smell great."
"I think that they should build a high quality treatment plant for a fraction of the cost," said Hancock. "We think that it would cost them less than $500,000. That's less than one-sixth of the cost."
"I don't think they've looked into these options," said Heney. "I don't think they want this town to stay here."