After decades of water shortages and water problems, the District of Lillooet will receive close to $5.6 million from the federal Gas Tax Fund to establish a new water source for the community.
That funding will complete Phases 2, 3 and 4 of Lillooet’s Master Water Plan, which will bring Lillooet’s water treatment facilities up to current provincial standards. To protect the water supply from forest fire contamination from the mountains around the community, a water supply intake from the BC Hydro canal will be developed.
Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon MP Mark Strahl announced the funding during a special visit to Lillooet today, Jan. 23. “Our government is proud to deliver permanent annual infrastructure funding for municipalities through Canada’s Gas Tax Fund,” said Strahl. “We recognize the importance of safe, clean and reliable drinking water and I am pleased that the Gas Tax Fund is supporting this project to enhance water quality in Lillooet.” The Gas Tax Fund also contributed $4.5 million towards Phase 1 of the project, bringing the federal government’s commitment to enhance Lillooet’s water supply to over $10 million. “It’s an excellent day for Lillooet,” Strahl told the News. “It really is quite remarkable, out of a $2 billion fund across the country, to have $10 million come to Lillooet for such a necessary and worthy project. I’m thrilled to be here again, as I was last July to announce the earlier funding.”
“A year-round, reliable, clean source of drinking water is absolutely vital to the viable future of any community,” said Acting Mayor Wendy Parker. “Understanding this, the District of Lillooet has taken action to ensure that our community will have access to the highest quality of water to support our present use and our unlimited potential for growth in the future.” District Chief Administrative Officer Grant Loyer said the project is expected to be completed in the summer of 2014. He said the District began working on the project in August 2009, just after the forest fires that threatened the community and forced the evacuation of the town.
Fraser-Nicola MLA Harry Lali planned to be in Lillooet for the announcement, but was delayed because of poor road conditions. When he arrived later, Lali commended and congratulated the council and community for putting forward the application for the funding grant. “When I first became an MLA in October 1991, the very first grant I was able to get was for a water issue that had taken place here in Lillooet. Joyce Harder was the mayor at the time and I think the grant was $40,000. It was all related to the same water issues and there have been others along the way,” Lali recalled.
Veteran Councillor Kevin Anderson said today’s announcement is the culmination of efforts by a succession of municipal councils working together and trying to solve the water problems in Lillooet. “Having that resource there is second to none,” a happy Anderson said. “And having it with no turbidity, no arsenic, having it consistently there without worrying about seasonal changes and having the means to continue with the project is phenomenal. This is something that will move us into the future and be there for all time to come.”
Phase 1 of the project involves drilling two wells, putting in chlorination and UV treatment, pumping water from Cayoosh Park and tying it into the municipal distribution system and universal water metering. Grant Loyer said Phases 2, 3 and 4 will involve negotiations with the Cayoosh Band re: access to the Hydro Canal; piloting water treatment to determine the exact kind of treatment and filtration system that’s right for Lillooet; and finally, full water treatment and filtration to “guarantee excellent potable water for the District of Lillooet.”