Airdrie-based company Dockman and Associates Ltd., along with owner Michael Dockman have been charged after failing to comply with the conditions of an enforcement order issued against them in May 2013.
According to a release issued on Feb. 4 by Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (AESRD), Dockman and Associates failed to complete the required monitoring as stipulated in the May 2013 enforcement order and have been charged.
Dockman and Associates supplies water to about twenty-five homes in the Sharp Hill area just south of Airdrie.
An enforcement order was issued in May 2013 requiring it to provide monthly sampling of its water supply for a variety of things including proper fluoride concentration and proper pH levels.
The Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) took control of supplying the homeowners with water in January 2014 after many failed attempts by the AUC to force the company to obtain a water license.
The final move came Jan. 24, 2014, as the AUC moved to file paperwork seizing control of the water distribution centre after meeting with concerned residents.
Public Affairs Officer with AESRD Jamie Hanlon said, “normally an enforcement order is put up when there’s been an issue of non-compliance with, in this case, operation of a facility.”
Dockman and Associates and Michael Dockman face a total of six charges.
“The charges are laid for contravening an enforcement order related to the operation of a water treatment facility,” Hanlon said.
“In a case where individuals or companies fail to comply with our legislation we have a range of options, depending on the offense, including prosecution, to ensure compliance with the environmental regulations.”
One charge is for “providing water through the waterworks system that did not meet a fluoride concentration limit of treated water entering the water distribution system of between 0.6 milligrams per litre and 1.0 milligrams per litre.”
According to a public position paper issued by Alberta Health (AH), proper fluoride concentration levels in water are important to good health.
The paper states water with fluoride levels above the Maximum Acceptable Concentration of 1.5 parts per million (ppm) expressed in mg/L could result in dental fluorosis, a discoloring of the teeth.
“In Alberta, fluoridation programs are required to use the optimal level, which is monitored closely,” according to the AH paper.
The company and Dockman are also charged with “failing to collect samples and analyze for pH of treated water for water entering the water distribution system five days per week.”
Public Affairs Officer with Alberta Health Karen Lamminen wrote in an email to the Airdrie City View “pH is a measure of how acidic a liquid is. pH can change the way chemicals interact and how effectively and efficiently they work.”
“For water treatment plants, the pH level must be monitored to ensure that disinfectants like chlorine can be effective in removing harmful bacteria like E. coli. If the pH level goes too high or too low, chlorine may not kill or reduce bacteria to safe levels and this can result in water-borne illness,” she said.
The other charges include failing to collect samples of water to check it for the appropriate fluoride concentration and failing to report any contravention of the enforcement order to AESRD.
“The government focuses primarily on education to ensure that Albertans enjoy a clean and healthy environment,” she said.
“When situations occur, prosecution is one of the ways we find a way to ensure compliance is occurring. It is a step of last resort.”
Dockman and Associates and Michael Dockman will make their first court appearance in Airdrie Provincial Court on Mar. 12 to answer to the charges. Neither the company nor
Dockman could be reached for comment before press time.
– With files from Sara Wilson