Surrey-White Rock MLA Tracy Redies seeks written answers on water issues. (BC Liberal Government Caucus image)

MLA Redies seeks water answers for constituent

Mayor, Fraser Health and City of Surrey queried on quality and safety issues

Surrey-White Rock MLA Tracy Redies is wading into White Rock water issues in an attempt to clear up questions for a constituent – and is looking for written answers.

In a letter sent Dec. 18 to White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin, Fraser Health president and CEO Michael Marchbank and City of Surrey head of operations Vince Lalonde, Redies said she is seeking “clarity on a number of questions that have been posed to the province and the city for many months by Mr. Roderick Louis regarding water quality and safety in the City of White Rock.”

Redies said that while she recognizes it will involve investigation and work on their part, “I would appreciate your written response at your earliest convenience…I hope if we can put these matters to rest, it will save all of us time in the long run.”

Louis, a well-known council critic – particularly on water issues – has had frequently abrasive interactions with council members, and also city staff, during public meetings, and was escorted from council chambers by RCMP officers during a Sept. 12, 2016 meeting at the request of Baldwin.

Among questions posed by Redies on behalf of Louis are some on White Rock water quality and the presence of arsenic and manganese in the water – for which the city has started work on a $14-million treatment plant, adjacent to the Oxford Street pumping station (co-funded by federal and provincial grants totalling $11 million, the facility is due for completion in 2019).

Redies – first elected last spring – wants to know why a $100,000 public education outreach program from former utility owner Epcor was requested in a written directive from Fraser Health in February of 2014, and why it hasn’t been done so far.

She also asks what actions the city has undertaken to educate the public on water quality and the steps being taken to improve it, whether the city is complying with FHA guidelines for the treatment and public reporting expectations for water systems containing arsenic, if it can be confirmed that current water quality is acceptable according to Canadian health standards and whether the proposed next steps will result in an improved water quality.

On the contentious issue of the Five Corners fire on May 15, 2016, Redies asks what steps the city has taken in response to final report findings on the fire.

Referring to reports that White Rock was not able to access emergency water supplies from Surrey due to malfunctioning connection valves, Redies asks for a full explanation of “what happened with the valves?” including whether Peace Arch Hospital was impacted by a subsequent lack of water.

Noting earlier references to six valves, Redies points out that the city’s 2017 Water Master Plan only refers to four valves connecting White Rock’s water system with Surrey’s in case of emergency.

“Going forward,” she says in her letter, “what are the steps being taken to improve the working of these valves, or vice versa for Surrey, that they are working properly?”

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