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Posted: June 30, 2020

Milestone moment marked in Windermere

Long-standing Water Quality Advisory is lifted

It was a big day for the community of Windermere June 29 as the Water Quality Advisory, in place for about 15 years, was officially lifted following the community’s connection to the East Side Water Service.

“This day has been over 15 years in the making and is the result of an incredible amount of work and commitment by so many: from the RDEK (Regional District of East Kootenay) Board and staff, to the members of our Utility Advisory Commissions, the community, the contractors and consultants, and the provincial and federal governments who provided funding,” said RDEK Electoral Area F Director Susan Clovechok. “We also share this milestone with former Area F Director Wendy Booth who worked tirelessly to see treated water in Windermere.”

Electoral Area F Director Susan Clovechok

The Windermere Water System has been under a Water Quality Advisory since 2006 and efforts have been underway since then to implement a solution that would bring Windermere Water into compliance with Interior Health’s Drinking Water objectives.

“From the first referendum in 2011 to the eventual purchase of Parr Utilities and the connection of Windermere to the East Side Water Service, this has been a highly complex project and is a good example of community collaboration and collective problem solving,” added Clovechok.  “I want to extend a special thanks to our RDEK staff including Engineering Services Manager Brian Funke, Project Supervisory Elizabeth Ahlgren, CAO Shawn Tomlin, former CAO Lee-Ann Crane and CFO Holly Ronnquist who have been pivotal in this project and its success.”

Wendy Booth noted she originally ran for the Area F seat, in part, to help solve Windermere’s water woes and was elated the long process was coming to a close.

Following the unsuccessful 2011 referendum, which proposed the purchase of bulk water, the RDEK undertook a comprehensive community consultation process and evaluated a host of other possible options.

In 2015, a secondary reservoir was constructed to increase community capacity while work continued to find a long-term solution to bring potable water to the community.  In 2016, the RDEK Board supported pursuing the purchase of Parr Utilities and its water treatment plant.

Hank Swartout, owner of Parr Utilities and the Windermere Water and Sewer Co. Ltd., came to the table with the RDEK to find a workable solution. Following extensive negotiations, a purchase agreement was reached, community referendums in October 2017 were successful and work began to connect Windermere to the water treatment plant.

The final connection was completed in early June and following flushing of the lines and required testing, on Friday, Interior Health approved the lifting of the Water Quality Advisory and effective today, June 29, 2020 the Water Quality Advisory and signs will be removed.

Lead image: Current and former RDEK Electoral Area F Director Susan Clovechok and Wendy Booth officially “take down” the water quality advisory sign, a long-time aspect of life in Windermere, during a brief June 29 ceremony at the Windermere pump house. Carrie Schafer/e-KNOW photo

Joining Area F Director Susan Clovechok and Wendy Booth from left to right: RDEK Project Supervisor Elizabeth Ahlgren, RDEK Engineering Services Manager Brian Funke, RDEK Operator Jen Bartsch, Windermere Utility Advisory Commission member (and former Area F Director) Mick Eldstrom, RDEK Operator Krista Goodman, RDEK Senior Operator Norm Thies, RDEK Board Chair Rob Gay and Windermere Utility Advisory Commission member Sherry Avery. Photos by Carrie Schafer and Ian Cobb/e-KNOW

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