It’s official. The South East Kelowna Irrigation District has been given the provincial go-ahead to wrap up its operations so it can join the City of Kelowna water utility.
The actual integration of the two water utilities is not scheduled until 2021, but on Monday, the provincial government signed an Order in Council dissolving SEKID’s letters patent, a move that allows transfer of ownership of the water system to the city.
SEKID has provided water in southeast Kelowna since 1920 to both domestic and agricultural customers.
With the move, Kelowna is publicly recognizing the SEKID board for working closely with it to successfully secure what it calls the “unprecedented” $43.9-million government grant from the provincial and federal governments awarded last year to help pay for improvement to the SEKID system.
Early dissolution of the irrigation district was necessary to secure additional funds required to build the $85-million first phase of the Kelowna Integrated Water Project.
The project will see a new clean drinking water system built in southeast Kelowna and the existing distribution system used for irrigation and fire protection. Construction of the three-year project is expected to get underway in July.
SEKID staff will move to the city water utility as part of the change and the actual integration of daily operations with the city water utility will happen slowly over the next few years.
Daily operations and customer service for the current SEKID Kelowna water customers will continue as usual from the irrigation district’s Gulley Road office.
Meanwhile, the city is continuing to push for the three other water purveyors in Kelowna—Rutland Water Works, the Glenmore-Ellison Improvement District and the Black Mountain Irrigation District—to join its water utility and become part of the city’s integrated water system.
Recently, Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran said he expects the three hold-outs will eventually join the city’s utility.
Basran said he based that expectation on the fact the province requires any infrastructure grant for an irrigation district in B.C. to be applied for through the district’s local municipality. Kelowna has made it clear, it will not do that for a water purveyor unless it joins the city’s water system.
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