A deep subject

Cranbrook council authorizes Public Works department to complete rehabilitation work on Cranbrook's three deep groundwater wells

  • Jan. 19, 2015 3:00 p.m.

City council authorized the City’s Public Works department to complete rehabilitation work on Cranbrook’s three deep groundwater wells at the Jan. 14 budget meeting.

The move allows city staff to allocate $70,000 from the Water Fund Accumulation Surplus to complete post-rehabilitation testing on the three deep wells. Part of the funds will also be used to undertake Environmental Assessment Certificate Amendment which will allow the deep wells to be used more frequently. The wells could only be used under specific circumstances which lead to them not being used and requiring the rehabilitation.

Charlotte Osborne, Finance and Computer Services Officer, said that they are two separate tasks, but both needed to be done or the city would face the same problem a few years down the road.

In the accompanying report staff noted that Cranbrook’s water supply come from the Joseph Creek and Gold Creek Watersheds, both of which feed into Phillips Reservoir. A single 760 mm diameter water main several kilometres long connects the reservoir to the city’s distribution system. So if something were to happen to the surface water, or should the main break, then the city will be reliant on the deep groundwater wells, which is why they are needed.

The three deep wells were built in 2001 and are quite deep at over 90 metres each.

Joe McGowan, Director of Public Works, said the existing environmental assessment certificate which governs operations of the wells prohibits the city from operating the wells in the absence of a significant problem with one of the public surface water sources.

“The permit has specific statements in it as to the nature of any problem that would exist — in the absence of those problems existing, the city is unable to operate the wells,” McGowan said. “So what we’re looking for is the opportunity to amend the permit.”

Mayor Lee Pratt noted that to his understanding it was the lack of use that caused the wells to fail.

“Does the amended permit allow us to use them on a regular basis to prevent that from happening?” Pratt asked.

McGowan noted that it would.

Pratt also noted that the process of doing all the work first was a bit like putting the cart before the horse.

“You have to do all this work and then hope you get the permit,” Pratt said.

McGowan said it is a provincial matter that puts the work before the permit.

“The province needs specific information in order to approve the permit – it’s not unlike building a car and then making application for licence. You build the car, present it for inspection and someone can say nope.”

McGowan said the likelihood of that happening is low because they have gathered sufficient information to prove the nature of the original permit counterproductive.

The $70,000 comes from the Water Fund Accumulated Surplus which was $1,388,344 as of Dec. 31, 2014.