The District of Sparwood, British Columbia has commenced work on locating a new community drinking water supply near Cummings Creek.
An Environmental Assessment Report joint submission by the District and Teck earlier this fall included the replacement of Well #3. Wells #1 and #2 remain unaffected, and Teck has agreed to reimburse the cost of constructing a replacement well and the related infrastructure. The District and Teck are taking a proactive approach to securing a sustainable independent water source not influenced by mining activities. The work is funded by Teck in consultation with the Interior Health Authority and regulations of the Ministry of Environment & Climate Change Strategy.
Sparwood Mayor Cal McDougall said, “We appreciate Teck’s Commitment to ensuring our water supply is safe from the influence of mining activities, and by going to an independent aquifer, fed from the Cummings Creek watershed, we will have the ability to meet Sparwood’s water needs into the future.”
A 2013 review of the District of Sparwood’s drinking water sources conducted by Franz Environmental Inc. found that the district’s Well #3 was under the influence of surface water, but it was unclear whether selenium concentrations were the result of surface water contamination or if they were naturally occurring.
In 2014, Teck’s coal mining operation was responsible for a fish die off as a result of pollutants entering the waterways of the Elk Valley. In October, the company was ordered to pay $1.4 million in damages as a result of the incident in which their Line Creek water treatment facility. According the Canadian Press, the company attributed the incident to “high levels of nitrite, ammonia, hydrogen sulfide and phosphorous unintentionally discharged into the water during commissioning of the facility.” The company has said that since the incident it has implemented stricter wastewater management practices.
The work to find a replacement well for the community of Sparwood will continue in 2018 with construction of the well pump station, water transmission mains along the east side of Highway 43 and up Sparwood Heights Drive to the old Ski Hill. Additional work on the south side of the Elk River will be completed near the Elk River Crossing Pedestrian Bridge up to Western Larch to ensure the District of Sparwood can transfer water from the new source to all properties on the south side of the Elk River.
To learn more about this project, please visit the Sparwood Website at: http://www.sparwood.ca/water-utility