May 29 saw the ceremonial opening of the new water system in the Kitselas First Nation’s Gitaus subdivision about 15 kilometres east of Terrace on Hwy16.
Standing on the site under which the recently discovered aquifers flow, and next to where the new high tech lab and pump station are located, a presentation, blessing, barbecue and tour marked the important occasion.
For three years the community was getting drinking water trucked in from the regional district through a costly arrangement with the government after its last well dried up suddenly in 2012.
Water restrictions, noise problems from the refilling of the water tower, and dealing with water bottles and pumps for potable water in households – all this had become the norm while Bear Creek Contracting, David Nairne Associates and the Kitselas searched for water and engineered a system to extract it.
“I just wanted to thank the folks that put this all together,” said Kitselas chief councilor Joe Bevan. “It was very trying at times to get the water system back online but now we have a system we can live with for the next 20 or 30 years depending on the aquifers and system requirements in the future.”
The new system has five wells drawn from the two aquifers and a state-of-the art computerized monitoring system that was explained by the Kitselas public works and infrastructure manager Ulysses Venegas during the tour.
He showed those gathered how a visual system on a screen in the pump station indicates the levels of all five wells and also the level of the water tower that will still be used in the new system.
With a signal sent to his computer and his phone, Venegas said he will be alerted remotely if there is any problem with the water quality or the system. Some of the methods for fixing an issue can also be dealt with through remote control, while others would require hands on maintenance, Venegas said.
A water safety protocol is also in the works, he added.
The cost ended up being around $4.5 million and came from the federal Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development (AANDC), said Vengas.
Bevan also recounted the effort made in securing money for the water system.
“Our funder AANDC wasn’t co-operating with us very well. They wanted to do this over two fiscal periods, I got very concerned about that. I put the political pressure where it needed to be put and we got the process back on track and got it done in one fiscal period,” he told the crowd who attended the event.
Terrace city councillors James Cordeiro, Stacey Tyers and Michael Prevost were also at the event.