At the request of the West Bench Irrigation District’s board of trustees, the province officially dissolved WBID and transferred responsibility for the West Bench water system to the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen.
The WBID has supplied water to farms and homes in the West Bench area for 58 years. However, the water system is aging, and there are challenges with the water quality and supply.
“The WBID was critical to the success of the West Bench as a Veterans’ Land Act project and the water system continues to play a central role in this thriving rural neighbourhood,” said Michael Brydon, RDOS director for Area F (West Bench-Okanagan Lake West). “Under the direction of the RDOS, we can apply for grants to upgrade the system to the benefit of West Bench ratepayers. These grants can only be obtained by municipalities and regional districts.”
“With its greater capacity as a local government, RDOS is more than capable to meet current and future challenges the West Bench water system may face,” said Theresa Nolet, past chair of the former WBID. “I would like to thank all West Bench ratepayers for their support over the past 58 years.”
An open house and barbecue will be held July 28 at the West Bench Elementary School. Hot dogs and hamburgers will be served from 6-7 p.m. with a presentation to follow. West Bench ratepayers can learn more about the proposed options, view display panels, talk to RDOS representatives and celebrate the history of the WBID.
Although one of the options — the provision of filtered water from the City of Penticton — was rejected by West Bench voters in a borrowing referendum last fall, Brydon emphasizes that the RDOS has much more flexibility under provincial legislation than the WBID.
“All options are on the table, including building our own treatment plant and the purchase of bulk treated water from Penticton,” he said.
“The purpose of the open house is to give ratepayers a chance to voice their priorities and concerns early in the decision process. We also want to celebrate and recognize the WBID’s long history and its service to area residents.”
Additional opportunities to review the options for improvements and estimated costs will be announced in the future.