Montrose water quality policy reviewed

“I noticed that the policy hasn't been revised since January of 2011.” - Councillor Rory Steep

Water quality policy isn’t a foreign subject for Montrose councillors and residents.

The topic was on the agenda during Monday’s council meeting where village policy #5600, about water quality notification, was up for annual review.

The policy remained unchanged, but only after a lengthy and detailed discussion.

Councillor Rory Steep had concerns about the current wording and how the policy was used over the last few years, especially during the two-year boil water advisory.

“I noticed that the policy hasn’t been revised since January of 2011,” he said. “We all know that we went through almost three years of a water boil notice. I am just curious as to why we were put on that water boil advisory when that is not what our policy states.”

Back in 2011, water in Montrose tested positive for coliform, leading to a “Boil Water Advisory.” The current village policy reads with a positive test for coliform, only a “Water Quality Advisory” is necessary.

Councillor Cindy Cook was sitting on council when the boil water notice was put into effect and had a bit of insight into why the village’s policy wasn’t followed at the time.

“We started with just the ‘Water Quality Advisory’ and then went to the boil advisory,” she said. “We had something else in place first and then when the issue became constant, we went to a ‘Boil Water Advisory.’ We didn’t start with that right away.”

Interior Health (IH) stepped in early on and after water testing and infrastructure checks, had decided a “Boil Water Advisory” was necessary, despite the village’s written policy.

Steep says he thinks the policy should follow the suggestions of IH.

“Our policy should reflect what IH told us to do,” he said. “Our policy does not reflect that and that is my concern.”

Chief Administrative Officer Kevin Chartres informed council that the village sends water samples to IH every two weeks for testing, and until they hear differently, the current policy was enough.

“It is still good to look at these things,  but you have to do what the experts say,” he said. “We are not water quality experts here.”

Steep was satisfied with that answer and the discussion moved on to other policies.

The village fixed the problem of contaminated water with hefty infrastructure upgrades, including a new well, a new pump house and a new water chlorination system, completed in 2013.