The Lake Pine water system will be taken over and upgraded by the district of Lake Country, as the municipality continues to acquire privately owned utilities.
A loan through the Municipal Finance Authority was authorized at the Regional District of Central Okanagan board meeting Jan. 13 to cover the initial cost of upgrading the Lake Pine private water utility. Lake Country Mayor James Baker noted the Lake Pine utility serves close to 74 properties, and was put in by the developer.
The municipality is in the process of taking over the Woodsdale water system as well. Baker said several studies have to be done before Woodsdale changes hands. The cost of upgrades to the water system is borne by the users.
The loan for the Lake Pine utility offers the users the ability to pay up front or over time. “If more want to pay it over time, then the municipality borrows the funds from the Municipal Finance Authority,” Baker said, noting the upgrade costs are added to the taxes of the utility users.
The municipality of Lake Country has taken over several private water systems over the years, including a utility that served 14 properties off Ponderosa Road. Baker said the system was failing and property owners agreed to have the municipality take over.
A private water system at Coral Beach was also taken over by Lake Country, shortly after the incorporation of the municipality. Baker pointed out there are two large systems still privately run, in the form of Alto Utilities and Eastside Utility.
Baker said the condition of some of the private water systems being acquired is poor, saying that most of the utilities were put in at the least cost possible, and maintenance does not always occur.
“Alto Utilities is still in pretty good shape, but it’s an older system.”
Baker pointed out that with new health regulations being brought in, the smaller systems will have trouble meeting standards. He said private utilities can get deferment from filtration if they can show that they meet provincial guidelines and standards for water quality, but that deferment is not easily obtained.
Turbidity can be an issue with the health unit, he said, and water systems that draw on lake or surface sources usually have more colour in them. Baker said turbid water does not necessarily contain pathogens, but water particulate can mask pathogens so that chlorine treatment cannot remove them. Groundwater sources usually provide a higher quality of water because they do not contain surface contaminants.
He noted that the provincial government is supposed to be the oversight for private utilities, and the municipality does not check up on them at all.
There are about 1,600 or more private utilities in B.C., and the province does not have the personnel or the capacity to oversee them. Baker said the result is that private water systems fall behind in standards and maintenance.