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Water crisis for pickers

A campsite near Oliver that typically serves farm workers in the summer, is expected to soon have water.

Greg Norton, president of the Loose Bay Campground Society, RDOS director Allan Patton and others have been working diligently on the effort, since learning they were losing the water source.

"We are pretty much under the gun now, hoping to lay the water pipe next week, so that they will have water during the summer," said Norton.

He says the campground was created several years ago to give Canadian visitors a clean and safe place to stay, while they wait for crops to be ready.

Prior to that, the pickers camped all over, creating problems for the local community.

For years, according to Patton, they got water from an adjoining farm, Covert Farms, but this year Covert chose to not continue providing the water, mostly because of insurance and liability concerns.

Patton has subsequently asked the RDOS board to approve some of the funding so they will have money available.

"My community gas tax fund is available for a portion of this. Up to $100,000 was approved by the board at the last meeting," he said. "It is still important to note, this is just a contingency. We are still hoping to see donations come through service clubs, farm organizations and individual farms."

Norton said donations have started pouring in from the community service clubs and farmers, as well as the BCFGA, BC Cherry Growers Association, BC Grape Growers Association and the Southern Interior Development Initiative Trust, adding up to more than $40,000.

Currently there are around 40 campers already at the site, using bottled water and portable toilets. An arrangement has been made with parks and recreation to ensure showers are available for the workers at the pool.

In the summer months, the number of pickers living there peaks at anywhere from 200 to 300.

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