West Kelowna needs water treatment facility funding help

To build a new water treatment plant in Rose Valley will require federal and provincial government support to cover the $53.5 million cost.

Rose Valley watershed in West Kelowna.

West Kelowna is turning to the federal and provincial governments for help to build a new water treatment plant in Rose Valley.

The city plans to ask Ottawa and Victoria to fund 83 per cent of the estimated $53.5-million cost of planning, designing, building and operating the treatment plant, and building transmissions lines to tie in the Pritchard, Sunnyside and West Kelowna Estates water systems to the larger Lakeview system.

The Lakeview system currently gets its water from the Rose Valley Reservoir, where it is virtually untreated.

The water supply for the other, smaller systems comes from the lake and those intakes would be decommissioned as they would be tied into the Lakeview system if the new treatment plant is built.

Currently, because of increased turbidity levels in the reservoir, a water advisory is in place for the Lakeview system.

It has been in place since early August and advised water to be consumed by babies, seniors and those with compromised immune systems be boiled for at a least one-minute before being ingested or used for washing food or brushing teeth.

The city wants to secure $44.4 million of the total cost of the new plant from the federal and provincial governments under the new federal Clean Water and Wastewater Fund.

Under its rules, Ottawa would pay 50 per cent of the total cost and Victoria would pay 33 per cent.

The fund, announced last month, provides a total of $450 million to build new, or improve existing, drinking water, storm water and wastewater infrastructure.

In the past, the best the city could have hoped for would have been 33 per cent contributions from both levels of government.

If successful, West Kelowna’s 17 per cent (or $9.1 million) contribution would come from a combination of reserves, water development cost charges and debt financing to be repaid by user fees from those on the water systems to be hooked to the new treatment plant. The city’s Water Utility Master Plan recommends that within five to 10 years, a new Rose Valley water treatment plant be built.

Mayor Doug Findlater has said he hoped, with federal and provincial grants, construction could start sooner than 2022.

Last month, West Kelowna was among several local governments awarded funding under the CWWF. The city received $648,437 towards the $781,250 cost of a lift station upgrade on East Boundary Road.

A city staff report says municipalities can submit two applications under the CWWF and it plans to make the request for money for the Rose Valley Water Treatment plant its second request. That request must be made by Nov. 23.

Council was to discuss the request Tuesday afternoon at its regular council meeting.