By Justin Seward
The Town of Bow Island pleaded guilty to one count under the Environment Protection and Enhancement Act on Aug. 11 in Medicine Hat Provincial Court.
The town’s former employee, Ryan Jeffrey Sanderson, pleaded guilty to one account of providing false, misleading information, which is an offence under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act.
Sanderson was sentenced six months in jail, which is to be served in the community under a conditional sentence order, followed by two years of probation.
The statement reads Bow Island “did fail to immediately report to the director any structural or equipment malfunction in the waterworks system that may affect the quality or supply of potable water contrary to section 7.1.2 Code of Practice.” (failing to report water breaks).
The town had acknowledged that between 2014-2017, the following occurred: The town must report every water break that occurs to Alberta Environment and Parks within seven days.
“There appears to have been confusion with staff on this requirement as water breaks weren’t reported,” the release reads.
The municipality was also to perform chlorine residual tests five times a week at random locations in the distribution.
“There were multiple instances this did not occur over the four-year period,” the town release said.
Three monthly reports were not made in 2015 and lead level testing was not performed in 2015 and 2016 as required.
The town has addressed the organizational issues that lead to this failure to submit reports and perform chlorine tests,” as read in the release.
“Management is now much more involved in overseeing the operation of the distribution system and staff now takes more of a team approach in handling issues. Our water operators are in regular communication with AEP and seek their advice often.”
Mayor Gordon Reynolds said in an interview last week that “The things we want to stress right off the bat is this wasn’t about the town not treating the water, because the town doesn’t treat the water, the Highway 3 Water Commission does.”
“We were confident that was coming out of the water treatment plants was safe water because all of their records is up to par. We have no evidence that there was a problem. This was largely about not doing some testing, not doing some paper work.”
Testing is now submitted online, added Reynolds.
Reynolds says the town tightened up the reporting and testing back in 2018.
“We’re confident to not have a repeat of this,” he said.
There were questions and answers the town has put out that pertain to this charge and can be found at bowisland.com or on the Town of Bow Island Facebook page.
“We were just simply trying to anticipate questions that people may have about the water systems,” said Reynolds.
“The last one about the upgrading of the infrastructure. We get that question all the time from residents, ‘Why don’t you fix all this pipe?’ That’s the point we’re trying make, it’s very expensive, there’s only a limited amount of money to do that.”
Bow Island was charged back in February 2020 before pleading guilty to those charges last week.