Kelowna will move ahead preparing the city for new, single-provider water system despite the absence of three major water providers in the plan.
Mayor Colin Basran says the city will do what in can given the absence of the Rutland Water Works, Glenmore-Ellison Improvement District and Black Mountain Irrigation District, but the lead consultant who helped put the 2017 Kelowna Integrated Water Supply Plan together said Monday, you can’t have a city-wide plan without the entire city being part of it.
Don Stafford said the plan, as it now sits, does not address the issue of governance.
“This is a technical solution,” he told city council Monday as the plan was revealed publicly for the first time.
The plan, which has already won the backing of the province and Premier Christy Clark, for now only includes the city, the South-East Kelowna Irrigation District and the small South Okanagan-Mission Irrigation District.
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The first phase calls for the city to apply for a $43.9 million grant from the province to help SEKID improve its water system. The city has already made that application.
The entire first phase will cost a total of $67 million and Basran said the balance of the money required, should the grant be approved, is already in hand.
Under provincial rules an irrigation district cannot apply for a provincial grant. That must be done on its behalf by the municipality in which the irrigation district is located. A condition of successful grant from the province is also that the irrigation must fold into the city’s water system.
That is believed to be why the three other water providers walked away from the provincially ordered “value planning study,” which resulted in the new water plan.
While the city has repeatedly said it wants to see a single, integrated water system for all of Kelowna, the irrigation systems have, up to now, balked.
According to Stafford, the new plan improves on the 2012 Kelowna Joint Integrated Water Supply Plan, which he said was more focussed on interconnections rather one single integrated system.
The new plan took three moths to prepare and cost the city and SEKID a total of $220,000.
Th entire plan carries an total price tag of $350 million and looks to make Mission Creek the primary water source for domestic drinking water for the entire city, with Okanagan Lake as the secondary source. The lake would be used when turbidity levels rise in the creek’s water, such as during spring run-off.
Agricultural water supplies would continue to come from their current sources, which include a variety of places including other area creeks.
Stafford said Mission Creek has more than enough water to cover the domestic water supply needs for the entire city.
Agricultural and fire-suppression water flow requirements are much bigger than domestic requirements, he added.
The new plan contains short- and long-term objectives, with with the top short-term objective being improvement of SEKID’s water supply and SOMID’s agricultural supply. Both would see their systems connected to the city’s existing water system. The city’s system provides water to just over half the households in Kelowna and SEKID supplies about six per cent.
Basran, who met with Premier Christy Clark on Friday to discuss the new plan, said he was happy to hear her support it and say the province is moving forward with it.
She told the Capital News that the plan, as it now exists, is the one the province will use and it will not be changed in order to bering the there holdout irrigations districts in. She said she hopes they will join when they “see the benefits.”