A plan to protect one of Invermere’s drinking water sources has been completed and the protective measures it outlines will likely affect a number of local landowners and businesses. In order to provide information to community members about the plan and begin a discussion on the potential impacts, the District of Invermere (DOI) will be hosting a community information session on Tuesday (September 18) and DOI mayor Gerry Taft hopes to see the majority of the community come out for it.

“Making sure we can continue to provide safe drinking water for people in our region has to be a top priority for all of us,” Taft said in a release. “It’s not something the district can accomplish on its own. It’s a responsibility everyone in the region carries so we’re hoping to see a lot of community interest.”

The district currently has two sources for drinking water. The Paddy Ryan Reservoirs store surface water obtained from the Goldie Creek watershed while a well drilled into an aquifer — an underground  layer of permeable rock that contains water — in the Athlamer area in 2006 provides the district with groundwater.

“The main reason for the second source was to improve water quality without having to fund a water filtration plant,” DOI chief administrative officer Chris Prosser told The Echo in an email. “The second reason was to increase capacity for the community and to have two sources to provide supply protection in case of contamination or declining water supply.”

The district recently completed drinking water source assessment protection plans for both sources, and while a surface water protection plan has been completed, the main focus of the community session will be the protection plan for groundwater.

“There is no requirement for an open house on the surface source protection due to its location, however it will be open for discussion the open house,” said Prosser.

But community co-operation and feedback will be required to protect Athalmer’s groundwater source because the plan’s recommendations could have a wide-ranging effect on nearby property owners and industrial uses in the aquifer’s protection zone, he said.

A risk evaluation by the district identified a number of potential risks to the drinking water source including old or abandoned wells, or wells that don’t meet current standards, and contaminants introduced to the ground as a result of commercial or industrial land uses.

“In order to effectively protect the water source in Athalmer, we need to ensure that property owners are aware of the potential impacts of drilling wells and disposing of contaminating materials,” Prosser said. “Monitoring and protection through education is a key component of this process. As well, the district is considering financial incentives to allow us to enter properties and inspect and properly seal existing wells.”

Those not able to attend the community information session in person can access information on the district’s community water initiatives website at www.invermerewater.ca or by visiting the district office located at 914 8th Avenue.