Citizens for a Livable Cranbrook Society provides grassroots leadership and an inclusive process, with a voice for all community members, to ensure that our community grows and develops in a way that incorporates an environmental ethic, offers a range of housing and transportation choices, encourages a vibrant and cultural life and supports sustainable, meaningful employment and business opportunities.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Jim Wavrecan letter and Cranbrook's Waste Water Management Program

After reading a letter from Jim Wavrecan in today's Townsman, Tuesday November 4th, it might be interesting to look back at the history of the upgrades to the City's Spray Irrigation site.  Mr Wavrecan attributes some of those improvements to previous councils and that is true because they were ordered to carry them out but it is also important to remember if it had not been for a lawsuit against the city, a subsequent expensive (costs unknown) Environmental Appeal Board Hearing, a directive to deal with the situation and the constant lobbying from residents to do something about the long neglected Spray Irrigation facilities, none of those improvements might have happened.  Many of us were critical of the long neglected system and lack of attention to it. We were happy and relieved to see the Council of the day ordered to do something about it.  It was not so long ago that the Council of that day would deny anything was wrong with the system when a great deal was wrong.

From the Environmental Appeal Board Hearing Report:
While compliance and enforcement of the Permit are not the responsibility of the Board, non-compliance and non-enforcement, have been so overwhelmingly consistent that the perception from the evidence before this Panel is that Cranbrook has been ‘thumbing its nose’ at the regulators.

Councillor Wavrecan was part of the Council of the day.


Looking back:

Our post from January 26th 2011

Cranbrook’s Waste Water Management System Background Information


It is a very good thing that Cranbrook’s Waste Water Management Program is being updated. However just because 14 million, now 19 million tax dollars and infrastructure grants are being poured into these upgrades, it does not mean all problems will completely or immediately go away. The public has good reason to question and ask for clear communication and information and the following may explain why.

There are ongoing concerns some of which to the ordinary person would seem relatively easy to solve. Some on the other hand are understandably much more complex and will cost a great deal more money. Council may take comfort in recent correspondence from the Ministry and its many paid experts now constructing the upgrades but it is interesting to recall the words contained within the Environmental Hearing Board’s Report. These experts we must remember, were not hired by the city, or asked to work with the city, but were appointed as impartial experts to give educated opinions and direction on the level limit of effluent contained in Lagoon #2. The City was appealing the decision and former direction given to them to maintain the level of effluent below 824 metres above sea level. (CPR had suffered slides on its tracks closest to the lagoon and it was felt leaking effluent could possibly be the cause) Part of the Appeal Hearings involved learning about the state of Cranbrook’s Waste Water Management Program.

Ref. 84 from the Environmental Hearing Report of 2009

In reference to Cranbrook’s Waste Water Management System

While conceptually acceptable, the implementation by Cranbrook has been far from acceptable. What this panel has determined is that components of the sewage treatment system have been seriously flawed for many years and that Cranbrook has done very little to correct them. For reasons not clear, the Ministry has not enforced its Permit. The Panel had hoped for a presentation from Cranbrook that would demonstrate a determination to find an engineered solution but what the Panel received can only be considered ‘too little too late’. While compliance and enforcement of the Permit are not the responsibility of the Board, non-compliance and non-enforcement, have been so overwhelmingly consistent that the perception from the evidence before this Panel is that Cranbrook has been ‘thumbing its nose’ at the regulators.

Part of this passage was quoted in a local paper at the time of the report’s release. While many residents in the area had concerns before this report, many more had concerns after its publication.

Considering the above information and the fact that the current council is the same council, (many of whom were members of former councils), that received this assessment, the public has good reason to expect ongoing clear informative communication about the state of the upgrades and how their tax dollars are being 

 From September 6th 2011.


Most residents of Cranbrook know by now that our City was required to substantially upgrade its Waste Water System after much denial and defense for several years from the council of the day which included current Councillors Wavrecan, Davis, Schatschneider and Mayor Manjak as well as past Councillors Gordon, Mollison and past Mayor Priest. The original cost for the upgrades was estimated at $14.5 million to bring the system into compliance. The cost now stands at approximately $26 million and the upgrades are still not complete. For the City to label our spray irrigation system as “Cutting Edge” is a gross overstatement in our opinion.

Of ongoing and major concern to some are ongoing practices and the results evident in the latest available City’s Annual Report from 2010.

· Basic fresh water requirements for cattle watering are not being met.
Note Table B8 (link below): this shows the Microbiological Parameters for just four of the many Cattle Watering Ponds. It is truly upsetting that the water is up to 2,000 times over the accepted standards for watering cattle. (The microbiological parameters include counts of fecal coliform, E. Coli and Enterococci) Why are we continuing to recycle this level of contamination back into our food chain? Why hasn’t the City provided fresh water as ordered by Ministry of Environment? In the past month the City was observed, and photographed, continuing to actively spray effluent into these cattle watering holes. Excess effluent from another pivot was forming an overland stream of effluent, which was flowing into yet another of the cattle water sources.

· Effluent continues to be ‘lost’.
Note on page 9 the City reports “losing” another 580,000 + cubic metres of our effluent over the course of last year. Is this volume continuing to leak out of Storage Pond #2 as was shown to be happening at the Environmental Appeal Hearing? Where is this ‘lost’ effluent ending up? This is equivalent to the City losing 67 days of daily effluent created by the people living in the city boundaries.

· Also, it’s worth noting that contamination is still appearing in Turtle Pond, situated on Crown Land, even though the City was ordered to fill in the ditch that directed excess effluent into this sensitive wildlife pond.

Please refer to the City of Cranbrook’s Annual 2010 Report at the Public Library, or online at:


Our last post on this topic and more information can be read at:

and our posts in January 2011:

http://livablecranbrook.blogspot.ca/2010/11/cranbrooks-waste-water-upgrades.html



Improvements are still ongoing today.  The cattle were eventually provided with a better option for fresh water although the current situation is not known.  It is also important to remember the City's taxpayers had to contribute to these  massive projects, one of the causes for property tax increases.  Had the City's waste water system been maintained to standard over the years these major expenses happening all at once would not have been necessary.



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