Gibsons council has decided to get serious about testing its world-class aquifer.
At its Sept. 3 meeting, council voted to award a groundwater monitoring program contract worth just over $22,000 to Waterline Resources Inc.
Under Vancouver Coastal Health guidelines, the Town currently conducts regular groundwater testing at 15 locations in the water distribution system, including reservoirs and wells, director of engineering Dave Newman said at the meeting.
Annual turbidity tests are also performed, Newman said, “but what the tests don’t do is give us an early warning” if contaminants appear in the test samples.
The recently presented aquifer-mapping project brought to light two examples of very low-level contamination, which Newman said he was “quite pleased” about. “It’s not a reason for alarm, but it proves the point that whatever happens on the surface can affect our water.”
The monitoring program, he said, is industry standard for groundwater and “allows us to respond very quickly and change behaviours” if contamination is detected.
Newman recommended the contract for 2013 be awarded to Waterline without going to tender, since the company was hired for the mapping project and already had a database and familiarity with the Gibsons aquifer.
At least 50 per cent of the cost, he added, is associated with the tests themselves, which Waterline does not conduct. “Those are essentially costs that are beyond the consultants’ control.”
Newman said council could look at tendering out the program in 2014 for a three-year period.
Council also approved a recommendation for staff to develop a water supply testing and monitoring policy.
“Putting this into a policy, including the groundwater monitoring, would go a long way to providing an additional assurance to the public and to our coastal health authority,” Newman said. “What that demonstrates is that we’re taking measures to protect our water. We run an un-chlorinated system. That’s a privilege that we can’t take for granted.”
Armours Beach redesign
Council approved seven recommendations from the Armours Beach design committee, starting with an affirmation that the beach’s use is primarily for marine recreation, while any structure should be secondary and support those activities.
Other recommendations include:
• A system of floats on the south side of the water lot for small, non-motorized craft access, with provision for motorized boat access when required and safety measures factored in for swimmers.
• A storage system for rowboats, kayaks, canoes and dinghies.
• Access for the disabled.
• Improvements such as exterior showers, seating, bike racks, picnic tables and a water fountain.
The committee also recommended that any structure on the site be designed with the neighbourhood in mind and ideally have a heritage component.
An added recommendation from Wendy Gilbertson, director of parks and community services, specifies that a completed site design will be referred to the heritage advisory committee for comment.
“We would like to get as much done in September so we can estimate costs for next year’s budget presentations,” Gilbertson said.
The fate of the existing building will be referred to the heritage advisory committee for a recommendation to council.