No peer review for water plan

There won’t be a third-party study of a multi-million-dollar upgrade to Greater Vernon water

There won’t be a third-party study of a multi-million-dollar upgrade to Greater Vernon water.

The majority of Greater Vernon Advisory Committee members have voted against a peer review of the $70 million master water plan.

“There has been a thorough and thoughtful review and we’ve looked at a lot of options,” said director Bob Fleming.

The push for a peer review came from director Gyula Kiss, who questions how the plan was developed.

“Some groups of consultants have been working on it all along. We are getting information only from one group,” he said.

“We owe it to our customers to look at the master water plan again so what we’re getting for our $70 million is what the community wants.”

A major concern for Kiss is the plan doesn’t call for full separation of agricultural irrigation from domestic water.

“We will be providing very expensive treated water to agricultural crops,” he said.

However, director Mike Macnabb says the plan must be flexible.

“We have no idea of what future regulations will be. It could be that water on orchards must be treated,” he said.

The plan includes $26.5 million for filtration at the Duteau Creek treatment plant as mandated by the Interior Health Authority.

Director Bob Spiers doesn’t believe filtration is necessary.

“Our water quality is good,” he said.

Other aspects of the water plan 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.

While a full peer review won’t be done, a consultant will consider the implementation strategy for the plan.

“It’s a 25-year plan so we have to look at what will come first in terms of projects,” said chairperson Juliette Cunningham.

Greater Vernon residents will be asked in November to approve borrowing up to $70 million for the master water plan.