Peer review of plan request flushed

Greater Vernon Water’s 2012 master water plan will not be reviewed by an independent engineer

Greater Vernon Water’s 2012 master water plan will not be reviewed by an independent engineer.

Regional District of North Okanagan directors voted almost unanimously with a Greater Vernon Water Advisory Committee recommendation not to hire an independent engineer to conduct a peer review as requested by the Citizens for Changes to the Master Water Plan.

RDNO directors voted in favour of nine recommendations from the advisory committee, including a scheduled review of the MWP be completed every five-to-10 years or prior to the construction of any significant capital project.

The lone dissenter was alternate Vernon director Scott Anderson.

“Asking for a peer review is not way out there in left field, it’s something that’s a fairly standard operating procedure,” said Anderson.

“With a small investment in a peer review, we’ll potentially save money, gain credibility with the public and do what’s actually expected.”

But Vernon director Juliette Cunningham said a review of the plan will take place “each and every time a major investment to the plan happens.”

A 2014 referendum to borrow up to $70 million to undertake Phase 1 projects identified in trhe plan failed, which led to the creation of a stoakeholder advisory committee to review the MWP.

“I’ve sat at every stakeholder meeting with people representing commercial, agricultural, residential and industrial interests,” said Cunningham. “Part of that committee is made up of at least three engineers.

“A tremendous amount of work has already been done.”

The stakeholder advisory group voted in May to recommend to Greater Vernon Water that Duteau Creek and Kalamalka Lake be maintained as drinking water sources and that two treatment plants remain.

It also wants partial separation of agricultural land from treated water primarily in eastern Coldstream.

GVAC is also being urged to proceed with filtration at the Mission Hill treatment plant before the Duteau Creek facility.

RDNO directors agreed to the recommendations Wednesday.

The Citizens for Changes to the Master Water Plan had pushed for a peer review of the water plan, but that request was denied by the stakeholders.

The full scope of the master water plan is about $108 million over 50 years but the cost could depend on factors such as government grants and filtration being deferred or not occurring at Duteau.

While another referendum is possible, funds could also come from reserves and existing revenue.