Residents of Robson and Raspberry have been on a boil water notice for 18 years, but that has finally ended.
A new water treatment plant is finally operational and will provide clean, potable, tap water to the communities.
The original problem arose mainly from livestock and wild animals using the water and surrounding areas. A strain of E. coli was found in the water many years ago and a boil water notice has been in place ever since.
In the early 2000s, the federal government passed several strict rules regarding drinking water.
Robson-Raspberry Improvement District chair Anne White said the provincial government then imposed a ruling that declared something had to be done in areas where the water was unfit for consumption.
She said municipalites and improvement districts could be fined if nothing was done or one member could be jailed. White would have volunteered to do jail time if it ever came to that, but luckily it didn’t.
“We started looking and got an engineering firm,” said White. “We got a general idea of what we needed and what it would cost and since we’re a surface water source, the same as Castlegar, we had to do three things: filtration, ultra-violet and chlorination. It was a major project.”
The project was so large that the improvement district acquired a total of $3.2 million from the Royal Bank of Canada through funds set aside for small communities such as Robson.
Taxes have been raised in Robson, so the funds may be paid back in a timely manner.
This project has been ongoing for over four years and was finally operational in October 2014.
The boil water notice was removed just last week after a series of criteria set by the health authority were confirmed to have been met.
This project, nestled far away in the hills of Robson, was made possible due to the ever-vigilant and hard work done by the small group overseeing the Robson-Raspberry Improvement District.
An improvement district operates under the umbrella of a board of trustees. Such trustees are hard to come by right now, White said.
“It’s really hard to get people to volunteer for these things. Five is all we’re looking for but even that is a struggle within the community.”