The South East Kelowna Irrigation District has been given a deadline of Nov. 30 by Interior Health to submit a water quality improvement plan proposal without the prospect of possible provincial government assistance.
SEKID staff met with IH officials this week in the wake of the failed Alternative Approval Process bid to support a $15.3 million borrowing bylaw to fund the $22.3 million project.
The project, intended to bring the district’s water up to regulatory standards, was rejected by SEKID ratepayers.
The AAP required 10 per cent or more of eligible voters to register their opposition to the bylaw to prevent the bylaw from moving forward. With 3,309 landowners eligible to vote, that 10 per cent threshold required 330 responses.
At the closing of the AAP voting period on Oct. 25, 1,065 responses were received, representing 32 per cent of eligible voters. This effectively prevents the district from moving forward with the plan as presented.
“Our original plan called for phasing the project over a 10 year period,” said SEKID board chair Brian Wright. “The only way we can get those costs down further, without government funding assistance, would be to phase in the project over a much longer period of time.
“We are very happy with recent comments from Minister Bennett that SEKID now qualifies for government funding assistance and would much prefer that IH let us see how that plays out over the next few months. We are going to have a very tough time getting community support for moving the project forward without grant funding.”
Wright was referring to comments made by Bennett from a story published in the Capital News on Thursday in which Bennett indicated in an interview that funding assistance from the government was still a possibility for next year.
SEKID and all other water suppliers serving more than 500 people are required to meet the Drinking Water Treatment Objectives (Microbiological) for Surface Water Supplies in BC. To receive its annual operating permit from Interior Health, SEKID must show that it is working toward meeting these provincial water quality standards and treatment guidelines.