Highlights from the information meeting held, Apr 21, 2016. To view the minutes from the meeting please click here Rutland RA, April 21 meeting minutes from Water Amalgamation Meeting
Guests Mr. Gordon Ivans, trustee Black Mountain Irrigation District
Mr. Garry Zarr, trustee Rutland Waterworks
Mr. Ivans and Mr. Zarr referred to the Kelowna Joint Water Committee (KJWC). This is a coordinating organization for the five water utilities that operate within the City of Kelowna. It was formed in 1991 to promote standardization of methods and materials, improve communication and to provide an integrated approach to water supply within City Boundaries. The five utilities include: the City of Kelowna Water Utility (City), the Black Mountain Irrigation District (BMID), the Glenmore-Ellison Improvement District (GEID), Rutland Waterworks District (RWD), and the South East Kelowna Irrigation District (SEKID).
Comments amalgamation of the water districts with the City of Kelowna.
- A 300 page report outlining the Kelowna Integrated Water Supply-Plan (KIWS Plan) is a City-wide water improvement plan for all of Kelowna that provides overall water quality solutions regardless of utility boundaries or available resources. The plan was prepared in 2012 by a technical committee representing the five largest Kelowna water utilities. The plan was agreed to by the City of Kelowna ( Mayor Walter Gray) and the major water providers (BMID, RWW, GEID, SEKID). The City would be the vehicle for grant applications by individual districts.
- The City now no longer supports the KIWS Plan and has prepared its own separate hypothesis plan. As a result of this turn around by the City there are now mediation discussions to set terms of reference for a value planning process overseen by Hon. Peter Fassbender representing the Province and two consultants Mr. George Abbott and Mr. Chris Trumpy hired by the Province. Mr. Trumpy is working with the City and Mr. Abbott is working with the four other major water providers.
- The water districts and the City are meeting with provincial government mediators to work out terms of reference and a process for value planning, which is a third party review of planning for proposed new water projects.
- The governance structure for an amalgamated water body is a contentious issue and is not part of the discussions, and is not supported by the four major water providers.
- .BMID, RWW and GEID water districts have completed many millions of dollars of infrastructure work on behalf of their ratepayers to meet health standards. The districts are not allowed to apply for grants for projects that are in progress. Infrastructure grants for water projects may be available to the City The City wants control of those funds and wants control of the allocation of those funds to various projects.
- BMID, RWW, GEID have compliance water systems and meet health standards and would not benefit from an amalgamated water body. They are not eligible for grants for projects that have already started. The SEKID system is the one that the most needs help. SEKID has a large agriculture component and needs a dual system for domestic and agriculture use. SEKID lacks the population base to upgrade their system using their own funds and would need help to raise the estimated 24 million or more through grants and from other water districts.
- The Ellison area is part of the GEID but this area is outside the City. At the present time the City would not support funding any projects in that area.
- Value planning needs to be done.
- Treasury Board in Ottawa has not figured out how grant money will flow.
- RWW and BMID are interconnected and support each other.
- The BMID and RWW reservoirs are full to capacity as a result of a large snow pack. Water resources for BMID and RRW are secure and adequate.
- The governance structure of an amalgamated water authority is not presently under discussion. The City wants to take over control all water supplies in the districts. At the moment the trustees do not know where a discussion dealing with governance is going; how it would work, etc. Should the Regional District be involved?
- Residents are also concerned that the City would, if it had control or our water, sell water rights and water to outside sources.
- The City does not have legal powers to force amalgamation of the water districts with the City. That power lies with the province. The premier has stated that the Province will not force amalgamation.
- The meeting did not vote on the issue of amalgamation as this was an information meeting, but residents in attendance expressed their satisfaction with the current water supplies provided by RWW and BMID and actions of the trustees. Those in attendance did not support amalgamation with the City.
- It was suggested that the RRA write a letter to Hon. Fassbender indicating support for RWW and BMID and their efforts on behalf of their ratepayers as well as a lack of support for amalgamation of water districts with the City.
This part of the meeting adorned at 7:40 PM for 10 minutes to permit guests who did not want to stay for the continuation of the regular meeting to leave.