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Greater Vernon water rates projected to gush

By Richard Rolke – Vernon Morning Star
Published: January 27, 2012 1:00 AM

Kalamalka Lake is one source for the Greater Vernon Water Utility.

Water costs could skyrocket in Greater Vernon.

Officials are considering a cumulative 34 per cent increase over the next two years so major improvements to the water utility can proceed.

“It is necessary,” said Mike Macnabb, Greater Vernon Advisory Committee chairperson. “The Interior Health Authority sets the standards and we must meet those standards. We have no control.”

Much of the money would go towards separating Duteau Creek agricultural customers from the domestic system because farm uses don’t need treated water “We don’t have enough capacity to provide water for both agriculture and domestic uses,” said Macnabb.

“Separation will provide increased capacity for residential.”

How to fund the projects is still being considered but it could be through a combination of user fees and reserves.

“We’re also looking at grants and all kinds of money the provincial and federal governments could possibly help us with,” said Macnabb.

Director Bob Spiers believes the upgrades are unavoidable.

“Most of it is driven by health concerns. It’s a fact of life that we have to make our water the best we can,” he said, adding that he is concerned about how a large tax rate hike could affect minimal water users.

“They are the ones who will be the most hurt.”

GVAC will form an ad hoc committee to look at long-term options for generating water revenue, including possibly using general taxes to fund capital works.

“I’d like to see a comprehensive (master water) plan, borrow the money for infrastructure and repay it with taxes,” said director Gyula Kiss.

Because of increased demands for improvements on all water sources, Kiss insists Kalamalka Lake should become the primary source for residential water.

“It’s a much simpler treatment process (compared to Duteau),”  he said.

“Everyone would get the same quality water.”

The findings of the ad hoc committee on revenue options will not be available for implementation this year.

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