It’s incredibly frustrating for residents. But the Cowichan Valley Regional District board made the right decision not to pay for water testing of wells in the Fisher Road area, and not to take the Cobble Hill Improvement District up on their offer to do the testing either.
At least, not immediately.
Which isn’t to say that we don’t think testing should be done. It should be. The aquifer in the Fisher Road area is known to have elevated levels of nitrate because of land-use activities, both past and current, in the neighbourhood. It’s important to keep an eye on the water quality. It is the drinking water source for many residents.
But none of the local government in the Cowichan Valley, Area C, or the Improvement District should be the ones to do the testing. And pay to do it.
The responsibility for the testing falls squarely withing provincial and federal jurisdiction.
If the regional district caves and finds a way to do the testing without it falling to these two senior jurisdictions they will be ecstatic. And they will write off the idea of ever paying for or doing the testing themselves. Thus volunteering to do it in their stead is the wrong move. They must be forced to take up their responsibility.
Much has been downloaded onto local communities over the years, often due to very slow moving wheels at upper government levels. Local people, who have to live with the status quo in the meantime, get impatient and their local elected officials take up the mantle (or non-profits and charities step into the breach while political parties fight out their philosophical differences).
In this instance, we’re not in a state of dire emergency. This is an ongoing issue that doesn’t seem to be changing rapidly in either direction. It’s the right time to put pressure on those who should be paying for it to do so.
If there’s no movement, the CVRD has not closed the door on the possibility of doing the work.