Dodge Cove residents vote down new clean water project

The Skeena Queen Charlotte Regional District has decided to scrap a project that would provide clean water to people living in Dodge Cove.

The Skeena Queen Charlotte Regional District has decided to scrap a project that would provide clean water to people living in Dodge Cove after a poll from that community found that the vast majority of residents there didn’t want it.

The regional district has been working on a way to replace the water system in Dodge Cove since 2008 because the residents there have been living under a boil water order for years. The district went through all the necessary steps for a new water system such as the environmental assessment, consultations with First Nations and even a pilot study to find out what kind of system would work best.

It was determined that a slow sand filtration system was best for the small isolated community’s needs and the regional district was given $533,332 for the project from the Municipal Rural Infrastructure Grant Program, $150,500  in Gas Tax money and 121,400 from reserves.  Now that money put toward somewhere else’s project because of a poll that found that 81 per cent of Dodge Cove residents are against having the new water system.

The problem is the large user fees that would be charged to the community’s 42 property owners. After it is installed, the proposed water system would need around $31,000 worth of maintenance, electricity and materials every year. Add on top of that the maintenance costs of the parts of the old system still to be used, and residents are looking at user fees of $1,400 to $1,700 a year for clean water.

“I voted against it myself,” said the alternate board member for Dodge Cove, John Turner.

“I’m one of the more affluent residents and this is going to cost me three times what I pay in property taxes every year for water. It just doesn’t make any sense,” said Turner.

Now that the idea of their own community water treatment system has been shelved, Turner says that the residents are looking for other alternatives to their water quality problems.

“Another possibility that Des Nobles [the regular board member for Dodge Cove] has been looking into is that you can get little, tiny water treatment plants for just one household. We feel that we could have provided one for every home for what we already spent on engineering [for the original plan],” says

Turner.

Board member Jack Mussallem put forward the idea that perhaps Dodge Cove should look into hooking up its water system into the new water treatment facility that the airport is building out on Digby Island instead.

The idea was fairly well received by the board is expected to be explored going forward.