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Hydro paying for water crisis

The District of Hudson’s Hope says it will be reimbursed by BC Hydro for a range of costs being incurred by the failure of its water treatment plant last month.
A view of Hudson's Hope by Signal Hill Rd.

The District of Hudson’s Hope says it will be reimbursed by BC Hydro for a range of costs being incurred by the failure of its water treatment plant last month.

Safe, potable water is not expected to start flowing for another month after a mechanical failure put the community on a boil water notice in July.

The district is now under a do not consume order from the Northern Health Authority, and has incurred a number of costs for the plant’s repair as well as for hauling water and purchasing bottled water for the community.

In an update Thursday, Mayor Dave Heiberg said BC Hydro has agreed to reimburse the district for expenses from the time the plant failed on July 20, to when the system is able to provide potable water to residents.

Those expenses include invoices for hauling water to recharge the reservoir, the purchase of bottled water, and the equipment, materials, and expertise required to repair the plant, the mayor said.

“Council would like to thank BC Hydro for making this financial commitment in support of our community,” Heiberg said in a statement.

Water quality has been an ongoing concern since the district opened the new treatment plant and water source last year, a change prompted by construction of BC Hydro’s new Site C dam. The district's previous water supply was sourced mainly by surface water from the Peace River, but water is now being sourced from groundwater aquifer.

When the new plant first opened in February 2021, residents were warned about high levels of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) and methane gas, despite the plant being designed to treat and strip the gases from the well water.

The new system was also put on a boil water notice last summer because of E. Coli, and residents launched a petition earlier this year following complaints about high chlorine levels.

Specialized plastic parts for the treatment plant’s aerator were scheduled to arrive on Thursday.

Although it's believed it should only take a week to replace the components, it could be up to a month more before water might be safe to drink. Heiberg says once the parts are installed and the plant is fired up, water will be re-directed back through the treatment system.

“After we are able to start the water treatment plant, start of flow water through it, it's going to take some time for the distribution system to get cleaned out,” Heiberg told Alaska Highway News earlier this week.

“It'll be treated water, but the water in the distribution system hasn't been treated. So, we have to flush that out to a point where Northern Health is happy with the test results. At that stage, we can address the do not consume and boil water orders.”

For the district, though, the latest repairs only seem to be a stop gap measure.

“The community is not happy with the quality of the water,” said Heiberg. “It's been made very clear. Council and staff aren't either.”

“We've been looking at alternate solutions for a long time, at permanent, sustainable solutions. That's our end goal.”

Heiberg said those concerns will, again, be brought forward Sept. 9 when the district meets with senior officials of B.C. Hydro.

— with files from Dave Lueneberg

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