The City of Kelowna says it won’t apply for grants for local improvement districts if the districts don’t agree to amalgamate with its water system. (photo: contributed)

Kelowna putting pressure on water purveyors to join its system

City won’t apply for grants for improvement districts unless they agree to amalgamate

The City of Kelowna is stepping up its pressure on hold-out water purveyors it wants to see amalgamate with its own water utility.

A staff report going to council Monday says under a new policy, the city won’t apply for any provincial money on behalf of Rutland Waterworks, the Black Mountain Irrigation District, or the Glenmore-Ellison Improvement District unless they agree to join the city’s water system.

Currently, under provincial rules, independent water districts cannot apply directly for provincial grants and applications must be made for them by the municipalities they are located in.

“The proposed city policy supports provincial policy that funding will only be made available through amalgamation with the city,” says the report going to council.

The city’s new policy will require that prior to any grant application, proposed capital improvements must include plans to physically integrate the system with the city utility.

To prepare for that, the city says it will establish detailed integration plans.

“These plans are to ensure the reliable and sustainable provision of clean, safe drinking water for public health and reliable water supply for agriculture and fire protection in the most affordable and efficient manner for all citizens of Kelowna irrespective of current water system boundaries or service area,” says the engineering staff report

In 2017, the Kelowna Integrated Water Supply Plan presented, a what city hall called, its vision of a city-wide integrated water system instead of the “fractured water distribution system that currently exists.”

READ MORE: Millions announced in water funding

That year it also took over the South East Kelowna Irrigation District after securing a $43 million grant for it to improve its system.

That city’s plan includes separation of domestic drinking water and agricultural irrigation systems in rural areas and using the most appropriate water sources for each use.

Meanwhile, the city is also shutting down its Kelowna Joint Water Committee, which included the other water purveyors. It says it will continue working with other groups to improve overall efficiency, reduce risks, and form partnerships for shared services in an effort to best serve residents.

Founded in 1991, the committee was an umbrella organization to promote standardization of methods and materials, improve communications, and provide an integrated approach to water supply across the city.

The last official board meeting of the committee was in 2015, but since then, the city and water provider representatives have continued to meet as a technical committee.

“It has become apparent a working relationship with the improvement districts is sufficient to continue to build on the work of the KJWC and move towards an integrated water system over time,” says Kevin Van Vliet, the city’s utility services manager, in a report also going to council Monday.

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