Backups are essential for critical infrastructure

Two & Out
By James Peters
March 10, 2017 - 5:00pm

KAMLOOPS — There's a good reason a power problem at the Kamloops water treatment plant this week caused such panic. 

The issue knocked the treatment component of the centre's operations offline.

Later, we found out that meant the plant wouldn't have even been able to pump untreated water to the rest of the city.

If residents don't have water, there's little they can do to carry on as normal. 

They can't bathe, they can't cook, and that's good enough reason for panic. 

If there are any problems with the system, the city has to think of how it can possibly communicate with all of its water system users in a timely manner.

You can use social media, you can use us in the traditional media sphere, but they offer no guarantees. 

The last thing the city wants is to be in a position where people all over Kamloops are turning on their taps to find nothing coming out.

The whole episode reinforces the importance of backup systems to all of the essential services this city provides. 

For the past couple of years, Kamloops council has debated spending millions of dollars on a backup water intake on the North Thompson River. 

The point being, if God forbid a train ends up in the South Thompson, we can still draw water from a clean source. 

Some councillors questioned the expense for something that might never be needed, with one even vowing to eat his shorts if it's ever activated

Council eventually voted in favour of spending the money.

Well, it wasn't even a year later that a truck ended up in the North Thompson near Vavenby, spilling it's diesel tank into the river

While it didn't end up impacting Kamloops, it provided a vivid illustration of what backup systems are built to handle.

Backup systems for critical infrastructure can seem expensive, especially when you consider they may never be needed.

But there's a reason it's called "critical infrastructure."

Governments may have to spend millions of dollars for what amounts to little more than peace of mind, but, especially in instances like we saw this week, that peace of mind is priceless