Construction stopped on Sparwood well

Development on a well in the District of Sparwood has been frozen pending the province’s adoption of higher selenium guidelines.

Development on a well in the District of Sparwood has been frozen pending the province’s adoption of higher selenium guidelines that render the need for the well obsolete.

The well in question, Well 4, is located in a separate watershed from the district next to Wilson Creek. Work on Well 4 was commissioned when Well 3, located inside Sparwood proper, was taken out of service due to its high concentration of selenium.

“Last year the selenium levels in Well 3 exceeded the guideline and we had known that the potential was there [when it was built],” explained the district’s Director of Engineering Danny Dwyer.

The previous selenium guideline was 0.01 mg/L, but Health Canada has now raised the Canadian Drinking Water Guideline (CDWG) to 0.05 mg/L.

“With that increase there is no longer a need to replace our well,” said Dwyer.

Though the province has not adopted this new guideline, Dwyer anticipates that it will be adopted.

“The province almost always follows suit on these types of guidelines, so we have now taken measures to freeze all expenditures on Well 4 in anticipation of that,” Dwyer said.

On the off chance the policy is not adopted by the province, Dwyer said the district has plans to revisit the well’s development in the future.

“We’re making the assumption that that will be the case but we have no control or guarantee that it will,” he said. Dwyer noted in his report to the district that a portion of the well’s capacity should be secured for future municipal use.

His report also states that due to the stage of the project, substantial cancellation costs have been avoided.

He adds, “The district has not lost any money over the wells as they are compensated by Teck.”

The new CDWG guidelines are now on par with the United State’s Environmental Protection Agency limits and only slightly higher than the World Health Organization’s guideline of 0.04 mg/L.