Regarding last weeks editorial, Communication breakdown, just how much communication has there been about the water situation?
Last fall, the Regional District East Kootenay told people of Windermere that a series of meetings would settle the water treatment situation in the spring. A Windermere Utility Advisory Commission assigned to study the issue could not agree to purchase treated water from Parr Utilities, but they settled the issue with a referendum. A petition called for public treatment of Windermere water and not the purchase of privately treated water from Parr. This petition was presented at the February 10th, 2011, regional district meeting.
At the May 17th meeting, the RDEK presented their water treatment proposal to approximately 120 citizens. They told the citizenry that there was only one choice and that was to purchase treated water from the private provider, Parr. There was not an acknowledgement of the community sentiment other than to say there would not be a grant for a public treatment facility that the MMM study estimated would cost 12 million.
The officials at the meeting told us that with the Parr option, we would be guaranteed the grant to upgrade our system. Who is corrupting the vote?
This prompted people to ask why MMM estimated a $12 million cost to upgrade the Windermere Water Utility when a Focus study estimated the cost at $4.6 million using 2001 dollars. There were questions left unanswered regarding the setting of water rates by the Comptroller of British Columbia Water Rights. There were questions about the economic viability of private water treatment providers in British Columbia. This meeting resulted in more questions being raised than answered.
The citizenry were very agitated with the top-down communication. Consequently, this led to the creation of a self-appointed committee, made up of volunteers who wanted to thoroughly examine the options available.
One member of the committee was Steve Lackey, a retired water engineer, with 32 years of experience in Canada and the U.S., who came up with a design for an alternative standalone water treatment facility. Talk about the story gaining legs.
On June 10th, Steve presented his proposal to about 70 citizens at the Windermere Community Hall. The meeting was open to everyone. Steve took one hour to make a very detailed and enlightening presentation that had the undivided attention of the audience. During the course of his presentation, he responded to all questions asked. Some people remained in the hall for another hour to ask Steve about his proposal.
Steve is open to have his standalone scrutinized by those versed in the technical details. A considered exchange of ideas about the various options is the process that is most likely to result in the best solution to the Windermere water issue. Why is this an interruption to an important political process? Out of chaos comes resolution when reason is allowed to prevail.
Mike Haltman, Windermere resident