Breaking new water ground

It's a historic day of sorts for the City of Kelowna.

After signing an agreement to amalgamate the SEKID and SOMID water utilities with the City of Kelowna's, ground was officially broken Wednesday on a two-year construction project to integrate the systems.

Federal Infrastructure and Communities Minister Amarjeet Sohi, Kelowna-Lake Country MP Stephen Fuhr, Kelowna MLA Steve Thomson and Mayor Colin Basran were on hand for the official start of the project.

Basran said it's one of the largest infrastructure projects ever undertaken by the city.

Federal and provincial contributions of $44 million were the largest grants anyone at City Hall could remember the city receiving.

"The fact we received the grant amounts we did from the provincial and federal government shows they believe in this strategy, and they want to see all residents in our community receive safe and clean drinking water," said Basran.

The integration of the city's five irrigation districts into one has been one of this council's top priorities since assuming office in 2014.

While both SEKID and SOMID have come on board, the three remaining districts, Black Mountain, Rutland and Glenmore-Ellison have yet to do so.

Basran says an invitation has been extended to BMID.

The mayor reiterated a city-wide integration would take some time, and more money to achieve. But, he believes a further $12 million provincial grant for the next phase highlights senior government's desire to move integration along.

Basran says it's not a matter or if, but when a long-term strategy will be implemented.

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