Montrose water supply to get a fresh start

The end of a boil-water advisory is in sight for Montrose, which has received nearly $1.3 million for water quality upgrades.

The end of a boil-water advisory is in sight for Montrose, which has received nearly $1.3 million from the federal Gas Tax Fund for water quality upgrades that include a creation of a chlorination facility and a replacement of a failing well.

The project will also include a back-up power source for the new well and a dedicated supply main in the village reservoirs, which will provide chlorine contact time to prevent bacteria and viruses from reaching water services throughout the village.

Montrose Mayor Joe Danchuk said the grant is very exciting news for the village, which would have had to otherwise stomach some huge infrastructure costs.

“We could stay on the boil-water advisory but that isn’t the right thing to do,” he said. “It’s key to us that we provide safe water to the residents and we’ve tried everything in the last year to disinfect.”

Interior Health asked villagers to start boiling their drinking water for one minute at a rolling boil or use bottled water as a precautionary measure last February when a small amount of coliform bacteria consistently showed up in the village’s weekly water samplings.

The bacteria – commonly found in the environment – can come from different sources like decaying vegetation or old fecal coliforms.

Samples peaked at 25 total coliform bacteria per 100 millilitres of water then and though the village did notice numbers drop off and even disappear in the late summer and fall, it decided to stay on notice until a minor rehabilitation was complete.

Since then, Montrose has again found the bacteria in its water, which solidifies the importance of tapping into this grant and taking the next step, said village administrator Kevin Chartres.

“It would eventually become a requirement for the village to implement a minimum of secondary chlorination,” he explained, noting the health authority is working toward this source-treatment protocol. “The village is being proactive and taking advantage of grant funding available.”

Montrose currently gets its untreated water from two wells – one at Beaver Creek and one near the Columbia River – and has been recognized in the past for the quality of its H2O.

But the village has exhausted all avenues in trying to determine the cause of the bacteria and is now looking forward to its new chlorination facility, location to be determined, which is set for completion this summer.

The village will be hosting an educational session Feb. 8 at the Montrose Community Hall at 7 p.m., when residents can find out more information.

Montrose representatives were joined by special guests – including David Wilks, MP for Kootenay-Columbia, on behalf of Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities Denis Lebel – for a meet and greet today.

“Our government is proud to deliver long-term infrastructure funding for municipalities through a permanent annual investment through Canada’s Gas Tax Fund,” said Wilks in a news release. “This new well and chlorination facility will be of critical importance to residents of Montrose, for whom boiling tap water has been a daily chore for the past 11 months.”

Canada’s Gas Tax Fund primarily supports capital projects such as local roads, public transit, energy systems and waste management infrastructure that lead to cleaner air and water or reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

The Union of British Columbia Municipalities has administered the fund in B.C. since last year when the federal government passed legislation to make the funding a permanent annual investment.