Proof of water sustainability is what Twin Lakes aquifer needs

The Proof of Water issues for the Twin Lakes Golf Resort development which are coming to light through recently copied e-mails and curiosities posed to government agents has raised many important issues which I feel the community at large should be well advised of, and politicians should be further made to explain their roles and involvements in these processes. I feel it is not their responsibility to shirk responsibility, yet some don’t seem to care about their perceived lack of action or interest. Others do.

As has been well noted by certain Twin Lakes residents actively protecting the aquifer, through dedicated research and actually reading  and re-reading and digesting the information contained in the Summit report and the EBA hydrogeological studies and correlating it to historical fact, we have had a much more informative picture painted for us. It’s a picture which could and should raise some alarms and spawn more questions regarding the future of the small area.

The most important consideration, in my estimation is the very real lack of knowledge by officials of the details contained in the studies and the rush to the “Summary” section. Taking a liberty to cut and paste text from Coral Brown, Twin Lakes resident and water advocate, I submit;

(Section ) 7.1 page 28 of the Twin Lakes Aquifer Capacity Study has a real solution for the RDOS “proof of water”. Summit stated on p. 29 that there are four common misrepresentations sometimes seen in hydrogeological reports:

1.”That rapid recovery of the well water level after pumping equals aquifer productivity or sustainable yield”

2. “Sustainable yield is equal to the estimated average annual recharge or discharge”

3. Sustainable yield as demonstrated by the CPCN 100 day well pump test demonstrates “safe yield”

4. “Sustainable yield is possible in all groundwater basins”.

The study goes on to explain in the first paragraph on p. 30 that these techniques of well pumping “must be accompanied by examination of the balance of an aquifer system using conceptual, analytical or numerical modeling”.  This is the answer for “proof of water” for RDOS……a study of aquifer capacity such as we did at Twin Lakes. The study lists only 30 to 35 per cent maximum draw of the estimated recharge (570 US gpm) to be used for a sustainable aquifer…..but, this figure is safe for sustainability only in a “system  showing signs of stability and equilibrium which the Twin Lakes area is not”. In the second paragraph p.30 it states that because, the system is not showing signs of stability and equilibrium the author, Bryer Manwell, stated “more data and numerical modeling would be required to refine” the 30 to 35 per cent amount (171 to 191 US gpm). This is where an original critic of the Summit draft copy drew conclusions that more information was necessary. From then on the Summit Study had no validity.”

This is a miscarriage by officials of the best information to date and should have been acted upon more responsibly. Too often are recommendations of studies set aside for the convenience of some party and detriment of another.

A major consideration also noted there and one which I trust any review of the aforementioned documents will substantiate is the huge difference in units of measure for the two studi

studies when comparing U.S. gpm and Imperial gpm.  This is a 15 per cent variance and should be sufficient to derail any process pertaining to any amount of water to be allocated as having been represented by ‘true numbers’ at the time of measurement and determination.

Further to that anomaly is the fact that there has indeed been subdivision of some sort upon the golf course proper since 1994 or 1995 with the building of the homes along Range Rd. This fact seems to have been notably absent when Rick Shilletto was interviewed by Oleg Ivanov, then working for one of the firms performing the determinative study at the time.  That subdivision and further understated development already has the growth of residences on this aquifer at nearly double since 1994.

We have seen the golf course property change ownership in 2008 and yet a number of discussions come to light as having taken place between the developer and certain government agents earlier in 2007. We see a six million dollar public project filling in a previously productive adjacent gravel pit with the rock taken from the scaling project through the Yellow Lake corridor, and I wonder now how this massive displacement of sheer weight will impact a ‘spongey’ aquifer transmission route? It’s much like a small mountain being dumped into a hole upside down on top of an unseen river. Anyways, I’m wondering is this some kind of pre-arranged back road for the proposed development site up on the ridge? Because if it is, I’d say we’ve been deprived knowledge when asking pointed and certain questions in the regards of developments and permissions granted in the area. This would not represent a fair playing field.

The thing is, it seems no matter how much anyone knows or thinks they know, speculation is fueled by the things we see and do not understand.  In 2010 a large amount of material was removed from the MoT- Argo Road Maintenance gravel pit and I believe was used to improve the roadbed north of Keremeos during pavement resurfacing. Seeing the recent activity of filling in the same pit with masses of rock from scaling at Yellow Lake, I would like to know if there is prior intention to aid the Twin Lakes Golf Resort developer in this situation by building a secondary access to the rock ridge area, and if so why the ‘public’ has to dig around to discover such things rather than have the information made public, or the information distributed fairly to those impacted?

Are our tax dollars already working against us and facilitating the mining of the aquifer?

Another important point recently raised is the question of where and how the developer will store the treated effluent during winter months when 200 plus homes worth of wastewater will not be spread upon the golf course through irrigation? Is there some Olympic pool sized reservoir in the design? Consider average use of water by individual Canadians at 600 litres per day, multiplied by say, an average of 3.5 people in a home, multiplied by 250 homes, multiplied by a minimum of 200 consecutive days of non irrigation. My math says that’s about 100 million litres. That is a potentially huge amount of wastewater which will not be able to permeate a frozen ground surface. If any amount of stored effluent is released rapidly, the concentrations of Volatile Organic Compounds, pharmaceuticals, and petroleum based fertilizers will result in a toxic chemical soup in our groundwater and will leech through the action of the flow of the water. One can imagine that over time this could conceivably leech upwards through the many stratas of material forming our underground filtering terrain. Any chemical able to rise through the water table will seek its highest possible point of elevation.

Why can’t our people of influence in the new millennium act in this manner and let the acquired knowledge of common sense be the notable characteristic rising to new heights in this water limited, environmentally sensitive area? It’s what we really need instead.

 

Steve Brown – Twin Lakes Area Aquifer Group