Strata feels sting of acidic water 

Local plumber calls Pemberton water ‘strata killer’ due to pipe corrosion

By Cindy Filipenko

The Creekside Village housing development, located across from One Mile Park, is trying to stave off a potentially pricey water problem. The strata has applied to the Village of Pemberton seeking an amendment to the strata flood construction covenant.

According to a letter from Scott Schober, a property agent with Whistler Resort Management, the company that manages the strata, “the Village’s untreated water supply has been reacting with the copper fittings and over time eroding the fittings located in the walls and all units. As a result the Strata Corporation is dealing with several leaks each month and to date the owners have spent significant funds and time dealing with each water leak.”

Schober also wrote that, “It should be noted that as a result of this problem the resale value of all Creeskside units has also suffered greatly.”

The strata council and building committee are considering a complete re-plumbing of the waterlines in the development’s 54 units to stave off further problems. A more affordable way to solve the problem would be by relocating hot water tanks and manifolds in the garages. However, local bylaws currently do not allow construction of electrical or plumbing on the flood plane due to safety issues, including cross-contamination.

Schober could not be reached to comment on the financial impact the various remedies could cost each unit, but one local plumber alluded to the potential high cost of replacement and repair by calling the damage caused by water corrosion “strata killer”.

The effect of the VOP’s untreated water sources has had on plumbing is widespread, according to plumber Rob Szachury. Szachury, who owns Turbo Plumbing, held up a corroded brass fitting (brass is 85 per cent copper and 15 per cent nickel) at last Tuesday’s council meeting to prove his point.

“This fitting is three months old,” he said. Szarchury said that this problem was appearing in single-family homes, multi-family dwellings and in businesses. The most severely affected of these businesses being the Pemberton Valley Lodge where a two-year-old water tank failed. As a result, the building sustained extensive water damage.

The lodge’s general manager, David Mackenzie, who is also a VOP councilor, confirmed that the cost of replacing the tank was $10,000.

“Our water system is in operation 24-hours-a-day, but still you’d expect to get 10-years out of a water tank,” said Mackenzie.

Dave Allen, outgoing Director of Development Services for the village (See related story on page 36.), reaffirmed at the VOP's March 20 meeting that the VOP was committed to addressing the problem of the low ph level in the community’s supply when construction is undertaken on the new well. Plans for the second well call for the implementation of a soda wash water conditioning system that would raise the ph level. A reduction of acidity in the water would translate to longer life for plumbing fittings.

Schober and two Creekside Village residents met with village staff at the beginning of May to discuss possible solutions. The strata is now attempting to obtain approval of its proposed covenant amendment from the Ministry of Environment.

Szarchury, in his address to council pointed out that currently the only way to avoid the problem is by installing PVC fittings and pipes. Most homes in Pemberton have either copper or nickel fittings.

Extensive information about the VOP’s water quality is available on its website.

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