Greater Vernon referendum taps into $70-million water plan

Greater Vernon residents are being asked to fund big ticket water upgrades

Greater Vernon residents are being asked to fund big ticket water upgrades.

The Greater Vernon Advisory Committee decided Thursday to ask voters in November to approve borrowing up to $70 million for phase one of the master water plan.

“I have read all of the technical reports and I believe we are getting a fair compromise by keeping costs down as much as possible but meeting the requirements the Interior Health Authority keeps putting on us,” said director Mike Macnabb.

Directors Bob Spiers, Gyula Kiss and Maria Besso voted against the motion, largely because the plan includes $26.5 million for filtration at the Duteau Creek treatment plant.

“I am not convinced Duteau filtration should be part of the package,” said Spiers.

“It should be at Mission Hill (treatment plant) where 80 per cent of the people get their water.”

Besso pointed out that much of the Duteau water goes to farm crops and not residents.

“We are going to put filtrated water on agricultural fields and it will be a waste of money,” she said.

But Dale McTaggart, general manager of engineering, says there is more pressure to meet regulations with the Duteau system and the IHA has initiated orders to force the matter.

If the November referendum were to fail, direction would be sought from IHA.

“They may order us to do the work,” said McTaggart.

In terms of crops receiving filtrated water, Macnabb insists IHA sets the tone for any work.

“We have no control over some things like the future requirements of IHA,” he said.

“They may say that every drop of water, even agriculture, has to be treated.”

It was suggested by director Bob Fleming that IHA is driven more by reducing potential liability than improving water quality.

“Filtration is dubious at best. We provide good water,” he said.

Other aspects of the water plan’s phase one are $6.4 million for Aberdeen dam improvements, $9.9 million for domestic distribution investments, $19.5 million for separating domestic and agricultural water in Lavington, $3.5 million for twinning a transmission main and $2.6 million for an Okanagan Lake pump station.