The public will play a role in the future of Greater Vernon’s water utility.
The Greater Vernon Advisory Committee voted Thursday to form a public committee to review information and provide feedback on the master water plan.
“It can create frustration in the public if we stonewall. We need to start the process,” said director Jim Garlick.
The committee could consist of various stakeholders, such as large water users, and possibly individual residents.
“It’s important that with the concerns we are hearing from the public, that they are addressed,” said Juliette Cunningham, chairperson.
GVAC’s handling of the utility, and long-term planning, has generated significant criticism among some residents, particularly since a $70 million borrowing referendum was defeated in November.
Also on Thursday, a decision was made to investigate a communications strategy for the master water plan.
The goal would be to keep residents up-to-date on any actions taken and any changes to the plan.
“We need to draw people in and make them interested,” said Garlick.
A number of possible objectives have been identified, including meeting water quality standards, the community’s ability to manage capital costs, current daily and projected demand by source and classification, maximizing quantity of supply and minimizing the use of treated water by agricultural customers.
“Yes there is a cost to putting treated water on crops but there’s also a cost to not putting it on crops and that’s separation (of pipes),” said David Sewell, Regional District of North Okanagan chief administrative officer.
Director Gyula Kiss insists one issue is paramount above all others.
“What is the most secure water source at the lowest cost for treatment?” he said.
Kiss wants domestic use to switch from Duteau Creek to Okanagan Lake, but some staff question that concept.
“We have not done any water quality studies on the north end of Okanagan Lake,” said Dale McTaggart, general manager of engineering.