The ball remains in the City of Penticton’s court regarding what will happen with the West Bench water system.
“It is being discussed in camera at this time. The regional district and the city are working very hard on this proposal,” said regional district chair and Penticton Mayor Dan Ashton.
Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen Area F director Michael Brydon said the RDOS has basically two options: build its own ultraviolet treatment plant for the West Bench and Sage Mesa or work out an agreement with the city to provide filtered water from its system.
The RDOS is waiting to hear back on a proposal to buy bulk water from Penticton, a decision that Brydon said was delayed because of the election.
“The RDOS would buy treated water at the foot of Westminster Avenue and then we run the water utility,” said Brydon. “We run the water utility no matter where the water comes from. The question now is does it come from the City of Penticton or from our own little treatment plant.”
West Bench residents voted against receiving filtered water from Penticton in 2010 because it came at a higher cost than building their own treatment plant. Brydon said that proposal would have seen Penticton take over the whole system, and neither side seemed “too comfortable with that.”
Last week, at the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen board table, the City of Penticton was awarded the West Bench operations and maintenance contract in the amount of $52,703.40 plus taxes.
“It is a continuation of the contract to operate the West Bench water system,” said Brydon. “The West Bench Irrigation District entered into this contract a few years back and we are just continuing it for another year while we wait for the larger West Bench water upgrade project to be sorted out.”
This contract extension means the City of Penticton will continue to monitor the pump house and be on call for residential emergencies among other duties.
“The RDOS staff does not currently have the capacity to take on another system. In addition, the West Bench system is old and quirky, so the experience the Penticton staff has gained with the system over the last few years was an important factor in our decision to stick with them.”