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Greater Vernon orchardists denied water

By Richard Rolke – Vernon Morning Star 

A farm family will not be able to tap into Greater Vernon’s water supply.

The Greater Vernon Advisory Committee has denied Jaspal and Manjit Sandher’s bid for water at their L&A Cross Road orchard because the property is located in Spallumcheen and outside of the service area.

“If we allow this to go ahead, others in the area will say, ‘How about us too?” said Dale McTaggart,  director of engineering.

Orchardist denied water service by Greater Vernon

McTaggart says extending water outside of the Greater Vernon boundary cannot be considered until the master water plan review is completed and separation of agricultural uses from domestic activities determines how much water supply is available.

“It’s a little premature to proceed,” he said.

The Sandhers drilled a well a few years ago and while there appeared to be sufficient water at the time they planted 45 acres of apples and five acres of cherries, an insufficient supply of water has developed.

“They have done all of their due diligence to find water,” said Bruce Naka, who owns an irrigation company that is working on behalf of the Sandhers.

“It’s been a frustrating process for them.”

The family proposed building a reservoir that could be filled off-season so irrigation was not negatively impacting the utility during summer’s peak flows.

Naka doesn’t believe GVAC’s jurisdictional issue holds up.

“Right across the road there are agricultural parcels in Spallumcheen with water available to them,” he said.

Director Bob Fleming did support denying the request but he pointed out that the utility already provides water to the Spallumcheen Golf and Country Club, O’Keefe Ranch and Stepping Stones homes.

“The precedent has been set about providing water outside of Greater Vernon,” he said.

GVAC directors have asked staff to look at the issues raised by the Sandher family and to incorporate them into the master water review process.

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