A delegation speaking at the monthly meeting of the Senior’s Centre Society about the proposed Keremeos reservoir project got a taste of grey power on April 3.
The group – consisting of Keremeos Councillor Gary Thielmann, Keremeos Irrigation District Superintendent Kevin Huey and Keremeos Chief Administrative Officer Laurie Taylor – addressed about 40 members of the society in an attempt to explain the reasons behind the reservoir proposal.
Their opportunity to speak was challenged from the beginning, as several society members protested what they called a “political” subject. Their complaints were eventually overruled, however, and Superintendent Huey began by describing the funding approval process, which began in 2010 with an Alternate Approval Process, which failed to garner enough support to allow KID to borrow the required funding for the reservoir. He described the villages’ involvement, noting that as a municipality, Keremeos had the advantage of being able to acquire grants and longer term money lending.
“The system needs to transition from what began as an irrigation system for agriculture to one that supplies water for domestic use,” Huey explained, noting that the village was at the limits of supply during peak periods of water use, with no reserve capacity.
Huey then briefly discussed chlorination – “I don’t have a crystal ball,” he said in reference to the future possibility of chlorination, adding that it is not on anyone’s agenda at this time, but there was no certainty what the future might hold.
The delegation’s arguments appeared to do little to sway the fiesty crowd, who remained steadfast in their rejection of the need for a reservoir. The possibility of generators as an alternative was repeated several times, as were Huey’s admonitions that generators did not resolve the issue of storage capacity. One member insisted that chlorination would occur once the reservoir was built, while another member questioned Huey’s extensive qualifications, asking if he had any previous experiences with reservoirs.
The beleagured delegation got a welcome bit of assistance from Senior’s Society Chairman J. Stephens, a retired microbiologist, who suggested that a number of the comments regarding the project were “nitpicking.” He refuted a number of comments made regarding possible contamination scenarios.
“Why are we voting? Why are we having this discussion?” asked one member who suggested that the KID and the village were determined to move forward with the reservoir no matter what the negative response from the community was.
There seemed to be no convincing at least several members of the society, who continued to refute the delegation’s claims until the meeting’s chair forced the lengthly meeting agenda forward.
Significant fact missed by audience during presentation
Conclusions of a fire underwriters survey performed in Keremeos more than 10 years ago pointed out the need for a reservoir in the community then.The report suggested that fire insurance grades and associated property insurance rates could be significantly improved with system upgrades. The report also noted that “the Keremeos Irrigation District is a recognized water system; however it is considered to be significantly deficient within the fire insurance grading. The inabilities of the water system to provide the max day demand in conjunction with the basic fire flow and the available fire flows for firefighting are amongst the most significant deficiencies for the fire insurance grading for the Village of Keremeos.”
Unfortunately for those who were opposed to the reservoir proposal, the most frequently mentioned alternative espoused during the meeting – gas powered generators utilized to provide back up power to the municipality’s wells – will not resolve the nagging and outstanding issue of water storage.
This was a point often made by presenters during the April 3 meeting, but never acknowledged by those opposed to the reservoir project.