Regional district communities facing water rate hikes

Regional District of North Okanagan proposing fee increases for water at Grindrod, Mabel Lake and Whitevale

It’s going to cost more for water in three North Okanagan communities.

The Regional District of North Okanagan is proposing fee increases for the utilities at Grindrod, Mabel Lake and Whitevale.

“If you look at rates, they’re not that high compared to what others are paying,” said Jackie Pearase, rural Enderby director.

In Grindrod, a two per cent hike is planned, meaning $11 a year more for the average domestic user ($463 total for the year) and $110 more a year for Sure Crop Feeds.

Mabel Lake will see domestic rates climb 2.4 per cent to a total 2012 bill of $288.50, while there will be a $10 increase to RV sites at campgrounds. Rates for apartments and the golf course will also go up 2.4 per cent.

“Their systems are old and we need to build up reserves  because they know they will have to do upgrades,” said Pearase of Mabel Lake and Grindrod.

In Whitevale, the proposal is a four per cent increase, of the equivalent of $6 per quarter for residential customers.

The total residential bill will be $588 a year.

“It’s an old installation and reserves need to be built up to a point so we’re able to cover a capital expenditure,” said Rick Fairbairn,  rural Lumby director.

“The quality of water is excellent. Overall, rates for water are reasonable.”

Pearase believes some residents will be upset with higher costs, but she says RDNO is being pressured by the Interior Health Authority to upgrade treatment systems.

“There is no money from the government to implement all of these things IHA has required us to do,” she said.

Besides rates, Fairbairn insists options are sought for funding capital works, and a $14,000 federal/provincial grant was used in Whitevale in 2011.

“That was a tremendous boost for the system that would have normally come out of fees,” he said.

Final approval of the rates for Grindrod, Mabel Lake and Whitevale must still come from the RDNO board.