Kelowna to consult with its newest water customers

City looking for a water rate system to use when SEKID and SOMID join its system in 2020

Kelowna city council will consider Monday the public engagement process proposed to help inform a city’s new agricultural water rate design.

With the recent receipt of federal and provincial grant funding for phase one of the Kelowna Integrated Water Supply Plan, customers of the South East Kelowna Irrigation District (SEKID) and South Okanagan Mission Irrigation District (SOMID) will be transitioned into the city’s water utility in 2020.

The separation of the irrigation and domestic water supplies has resulted in the need for the city to review its agriculture irrigation rate design to ensure a fair structure that encourages conservation and supports farming operations.

“Incorporation of SEKID’s and SOMID’s agricultural customers into the City of Kelowna water utility necessitates that the city’s current agricultural rate design be changed,” said Kevin Van Vliet, Kelowna’s utility services manager.

“While SEKID will continue to set the irrigation rates for customers in 2018 and 2019, we hope to give customers assurance and advance notice of any changes to the rate design that may affect them, and are therefore planning consultations to occur this fall and winter.”

Rate designs can range from pay-per-use, as the city’s current agricultural class customers do, to SOMID’s model which charges a fixed fee per acre of land that has been allocated water. Or it could be options that combine a fixed component with a variable component based on water use, such as the system used for City of Kelowna residential and commercial customer classes, or using increasing prices for increased use, as in Kelowna and in SEKID.

The engagement process is proposed to start this fall with a variety of direct, in-person and online public consultation techniques used to focus on engaging directly impacted agricultural customers, as well as provide opportunities for broader community and stakeholder input.

Learn more about Kelowna Integrated Water Supply Plan – Phase 1 and sign up for email updates at kelowna.ca/water.

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