Greater Vernon residents will have a say on multi-million-dollar upgrades.
A petition process or referendum could be held in the spring or in November 2014 to determine if there is public support to borrow funds for the $111 million master water plan.
“It’s important for the politicians to allow the public to weigh in on this,” said director Jim Garlick.
The initial borrowing could be for $68 million and Garlick says there would be an awareness campaign leading up to any vote.
“The public needs an opportunity to understand the plan and the Interior Health Authority requirements.”
A negative vote, though, may not mean borrowing or the project have stalled.
“If it’s not supported, there is the opportunity for IHA to step in and order it to be done. They could order us to borrow without (public) consent,” said Garlick.
Option 2 provides for filtration to be provided at the Duteau Creek treatment plant for $26.5 million and at the Mission Hill plant for $30 million.
There is also raising the height of the Aberdeen dam, an Okanagan Lake pump station, distribution improvements and separating irrigation water in Lavington from domestic use.
The scope of the plan covers until about 2037.
“The master water plan is being brought on us because of IHA requirements to have more safety built into the system,” said director Bob Spiers.
“Water rates will definitely be impacted. You will see a doubling of rates in eight to 10 years as they are calculated now.”
The plan does include pursuing senior government grants to try and offset the cost.
“I hope the province and the feds will come in with their one-third, one-third (funding) as they have in other places,” said Spiers.
The Greater Vernon Advisory Committee has recommended the master water plan to the Regional District of North Okanagan board, which will consider approval June 26. The document must also be ratified by the Interior Health Authority.