Public gets say on water rates

Soaring water rates in three North Okanagan communities are on hold so residents can provide input.

Soaring water rates in three North Okanagan communities are on hold so residents can provide input.

The North Okanagan Regional District has held off on the adoption of new utility fees for Grindrod, Mabel Lake and Whitevale so discussions can be held with customers.

“We will have public information meetings with residents in those communities,” said Arnold Badke, engineering general manager.

Domestic water fees could climb 99 per cent in Grindrod, while it could be 20 per cent in Whitevale, near Lumby, and 14 per cent at Mabel Lake in the Kingfisher area.

“I’m definitely hearing from Grindrod residents,” said Herman Halvorson, rural Enderby director.

The proposed bylaw could see rates in Grindrod go from $226 to $450 a year.

Officials say the increase is needed to pay for the treatment plant, repair equipment, update the computer system and cover increased costs for electricity and chemicals.

There will be a meeting Feb. 4 from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Grindrod Community Hall.

“The hall will probably be too small,” said Halvorson of the anticipated crowd.

For the Mabel Lake utility, rates could climb from $234 to $266 a year.

An information meeting for that utility will be held Feb. 4 from 2 to 4 p.m. at Enderby City Hall.

In Whitevale, the average residential rate could go from $452 to $544 a year.

Rick Fairbairn, rural Lumby director, says there is a need for the Whitevale utility to prepare for new regulations coming from the Interior Health Authority.

“There are operating procedures that must be implemented,” he said.

Fairbairn admits an increase could hit some residents hard.

“Water rates have been very competitive over the years and as time goes on, water is a critical part of life in the Okanagan. We need to have systems in place to ensure the resource.”

The Whitevale meeting will be held Feb. 10 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Cedar Bridge School.

NORD has adopted a bylaw increasing rates 31 per cent at Silver Star. The residential rate will go from $476 to $625 a year.

Mike Macnabb, BX-Silver Star director, says a public meeting wasn’t held because most Silver Star residents know they have to pay for upgrades.

“We have no option,” he said.

“There is costs with the Vance Creek reservoir and with ultraviolet treatment. There are also some additional works and we’re looking at our financial reserves because things (equipment) will wear out.”