Nicholson residents reject water options, health concerns remain

Monday, November 23, 2020

To date, residents of Nicholson, located in Electoral Area A, are not supporting any CSRD effort to develop a community water system or conduct further groundwater testing. 

Without the community support and a willingness to pay for the cost of establishing services, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) does not have the mandate to develop a water treatment system in the area at this time.

Due to the health implications associated with the groundwater drinking source for the residents, Electoral Area A Director Karen Cathcart and other CSRD officials remain concerned. The Board passed a motion at the Thursday, November 19 Regular Board Meeting to discuss the issue further, with a view towards advocating additional involvement from the Province.

"The water is contaminated. This is a safety issue for residents," said Cathcart. "We've reached out to residents and given options… At what point do we go to the province and say we need help? I'm at this point."

The CSRD conducted preliminary investigations into options to supply potable water to the residents of Nicholson, with the most feasible option being an extension of the Town of Golden's system for an estimated cots of $15 million. The CSRD intended to apply for provincial and federal infrastructure grants to advance the project.

Nicholson residents were mailed information regarding the most recent water quality study results and possible infrastructure options, however, residents did not indicate support for moving ahead with any type of community water system.

Nitrates continue to be observed in Nicholson’s groundwater supply which are above naturally occurring levels and, at times, being measured greater than the maximum allowable concentration.

A series of monitoring studies of the groundwater since 2005 have shown the Nicholson aquifer is being impacted by septic fields in the area.

This is a concern from a health and environmental perspective − both for the aquifer itself and for those who are using wells as a source for drinking water. Nitrates above the maximum allowable concentration can pose a health risk, especially to pregnant women, infants, the elderly, and those with a weakened immune systems.

The CSRD will not be advancing services in the area, including the monitoring of groundwater or conducting work related to providing potable water, unless broad and sufficient support from the community is received. 

All information related to the Nicholson Aquifer, past testing results and the recent feasibility study for a water treatment system can be found at the CSRD’s Nicholson Water Quality Monitoring webpage.

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