The recent power outage at Teck Trail served as a stark reminder of the plant’s trickle down effect to Warfield water taps.
Historically, the company has pumped drinking water from the Columbia River for village use, so loss of juice at the smelter inadvertently affects the municipal water supply.
Like in late June, when a storm knocked down power at Teck which led to loss of power at the village’s treatment plant and a subsequent dip in the Upper Warfield reservoir.
Time is ticking on this set-up however, because Teck decided to get out of the water business back in 2005.
The village was given until 2022 to come up with a plan. After that, it has until 2025 to have an independent water supply up and running.
“This is a huge deal for Warfield,” says Mayor Diane Langman. “And, with putting my name forward for another term, this is my number one priority.”
Worst case scenario, the village is looking at a fix in the seven-figure price range.
“That’s if we build our own pump house at the Columbia River,” Langman explained, but cautioned it’s early days to come up with a dollar amount. “So grant funding will be key to this project.”
The first phases of study have been completed, and council is now tasked with finding the most feasible way of getting water from the river to the plant for treatment.
A $10,000 grant helped the village cover about 50 per cent of the costs for this leg of work.
“It is a high-level study looking at what the best route for Warfield would be,” Langman said. “True Engineering is in charge of doing this study and it will be completed shortly.”
What a new water supply all comes down to, of course, is the impact to Warfield’s limited tax base.
“To be honest, we are just trying to attach dollars to possibilities,” Langman told the Times.
“We want to make sure Warfield stays affordable for our residents and we are completely transparent with the process,” she stressed.
“This is a huge decision for our community that none of us take lightly, and it is coming up very quickly.”
Results from the Water Feasibility Study will be presented publicly once council has the opportunity to review the data.
“We want to collect the information through this grant and make this information available to our residents so that they have it all in front of them,” said Langman.
“It’s about making an educated decision about the future direction of our community.”
The 2008 Water Agreement between Teck and the village defines three phases that will release the company as water purveyor to Warfield by 2025.
The first two had to do with studies of water treatment and water pumping. This third phase will lead to complete separation from Teck’s infrastructure with the goal being a long-term strategy to secure safe and reliable water for the community.