SE Kelowna water upgrades not cheap
Sep 6, 2012 / 3:38 pm
Residents serviced by the South East Kelowna Irrigation District (SEKID) are being asked to give the go ahead for a major upgrade to the water system.
Trustees and staff reviewed eight different proposal before settling on what they feel is the best option to not only improve water quality, but also to upgrade a system which was built almost 50 years ago.
"We looked at a number of different options for it and this one really scored highest on a number of levels," says SEKID General Manager Toby Pike.
Pike says the proposal meets provincial drinking water standards, while responding to rate payers' demands for safe and clean water for all domestic uses.
"Most of the system that we have here now was put in, in the late sixties and early seventies," says Pike. "The current system is actually in really good shape. The problem is that the source water just doesn't meet health requirements."
The $22.3-million Water Quality Improvement Project would supply treated groundwater for domestic use through a new “twinned” delivery system, and untreated surface water for agricultural use through the existing distribution network.
"We have a very large agricultural base, and a lot of our water, almost 80 percent, goes on crops. So it didn't make sense for us to try and develop a potable water source to provide all that water. Essentially what this does is break off that 'in-home' use aspect of the water that we deliver."
The project will proceed if SEKID gets approval from landowners during an Alternative Approval Process being held between September 25 and October 25.
Landowners who support the borrowing bylaw don’t have to do anything, while landowners who oppose borrowing have until 4:00 p.m., October 25 to sign an Elector Response Form and submit the original in person to SEKID's offices at 3235 Gulley Road or by mail:
PO Box 28064
RPO East Kelowna,
Forms are available at the open houses, at the SEKID office, and online.
Customers are encouraged to read the newsletter that will be delivered to their homes and then to attend one of three open houses being hosted by the District to further inform rate payers of the project and associated rate increases.
- Tuesday, September 25 at the East Kelowna Hall from 4-9 p.m. Formal presentations will be given at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.
- Monday, October 1 at the Gallagher’s Canyon Club House from 2-9 p.m. Formal presentations will be given at 3 p.m., 5 p.m., and 7 p.m.
- Wednesday, October 3 at the Kelowna & District Fish & Game Club. Formal presentations will be given at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Customers who can’t attend an open house are welcome to meet with SEKID trustees and staff any time between 10:00 a.m. and noon October 9 to 12.
"If less than ten percent of the District’s landowners oppose borrowing, then SEKID will proceed with the borrowing bylaw," says Pike.
"If more than ten percent oppose borrowing, trustees may choose to hold a referendum. Either way, improvements will still need to be made to ensure water quality standards are met."
And that will come with a cost.
To cover construction and operating costs, SEKID proposes to borrow funds and increase domestic and commercial tolls.
An additional water quality levy would be introduced to users in the year they come onto the new groundwater system.
Financing the project this way would reduce the amount borrowed from $23.2 million to $15.3 million, and result in fewer financing costs over the term of the project, saved property owners around $2,000 each.
SEKID estimates that rates for domestic units could increase about ten percent annually over the course of the ten-year project, eventually more than doubling what owners are currently paying.
"We're going to give everybody in the community lots of opportunity to...really have a good critical look at what we've done and discuss it with staff and the board of trustees to explain why it is that we're recommending this option and we're wanting to borrow this money to move forward," says Pike.
"I'm sure there are a lot of people that might be upset with the rate increase, but we are doing this to comply with health regulations so there's a certain kind of mandatory aspect to this. We've got to go ahead with something and we think we have come up with the best, most affordable, viable, long term option to solve this problem."
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