White Rock residents interested in having a say about how their water system gets upgraded have until the end of the week to make their voices heard.
And while they will not be able to argue the pros and cons with the inevitable chlorination of their water, they can have their opinions heard on the future of their system.
At an open house Thursday, residents had a chance to learn about the $11-to $12-million upgrade that is projected to take place between 2014 and 2016. Held by EPCOR, the supplier behind White Rock's water, the open house saw roughly 55 people come out to either learn more about what's needed or to provide input themselves.
According to EPCOR's Tim le Riche, most of the people who attended the open house wanted to learn about how the water would taste after chlorination and what kinds of upgrades would be taking place, which include a new reservoir and pump station on Merklin Street as well as a control room on High Street.
"We've had in place, for quite some time, a long-term plan to ensure a reliable future for water service in White Rock," said le Riche.
However, due to having to chlorinate the water by 2016 as mandated by Fraser Health following a boil-watery advisory incident in 2010, those upgrades are happening in the next few years rather than over a longer period of time. That includes building new infrastructure, disinfection and increasing storage capacities.
"We think this is the most prudent and beneficial project to ensure safe and reliable water for the people of White Rock," said le Riche.
For Janice and Dennis Smith, the open house was a chance to find out why their bills would be going up once the upgraded system comes into play.
"We live in White Rock and wanted to make sure the water is good and want to know what they're doing with it," said Janice. "Our water was our pride and joy and we never had any chlorine, but things have changed."
Dennis Smith said he enjoyed the effort EPCOR was making to inform the public and seek input.
"They're being forced to do it, and I can kind of understand it," said Dennis, looking at diagrams provided by EPCOR on the proposed upgrades. "You can clearly see where they're going to put in the new infrastructure. It's going to be upgraded and doesn't make the issue of paying more so painful when you understand why."
Those who missed the open house but would still like to learn more and provide input can go to www.epcor. com for more information. Those hoping to register as an intervener with the comptroller (regulating body) must do so before Jan. 25. Those looking to submit comments must do so by March 1.
"This is a chance for people to get their comments on record," said le Riche. "This is the opportunity for people to have their say. As of this moment, the only decision made is that we have to chlorinate by 2016."