West Kelowna residents are facing hikes in their water rates over the next four years.—Image: Black Pres file

West Kelowna residents are facing hikes in their water rates over the next four years.—Image: Black Pres file

West Kelowna water rates going up

City says money needs to be raised to pay for new treatment plant, connections and upgrades

West Kelowna council has approved increasing water rates.

With new water treatment infrastructure being built soon, including construction of the new $57 million Rose Valley Water Treatment Plant slated to start next year and be complete by 2021, the new water rates are required to help pay for capital and operating costs, said West Kelowna communications supervisor Kirsten Jones.

Currently there are five water systems in West Kelowna—the Westbank, Lakeview, Sunnyside, Pritchard and West Kelowna Estates water systems. Westbank is served by the 10-year-old Powers Creek water treatment plant and water for the other systems comes from Rose Valley reservoir.

Those systems, however, are currently only treated with chlorine, but once the new Rose Valley treatment plant is up and running and the connections are made to connect all systems to the new plant, they too will start to receive what the city describes as “high-quality” water.

The city received a $40 million grant to build the new Rose Valley treatment plant, but will also have to come up with $17 million of its own money help pay for construction and connections costs. And that is where the higher water rates come in for the Lakeview, Sunnyside, Pritchard and West Kelowna Estates customers.

As for Westbank system customers, they already pay a higher rate because the cost of the Powers Creek water treatment plant, completed in 2007, is still being paid off. Now, in addition, West Kelowna’s Water Utility Master Plan has identified improvements needed in the Westbank system to help fire protection water flows. Those improvements will cost an estimated $7 million.

So the city is planning to raise water rates in all five water service areas—in Westbank to help pay for the required upgrades and in the Lakeview, Sunnyside, Pritchard and West Kelowna Estates, to help fund for the city’s portion of the Rose Valley treatment plant construction and the required connections of all the service areas.

Eventually—estimated to be 2021—all water customers in the city will pay the same rate and there will be just one water system covering all of West Kelowna, to be called the West Kelowna Water System, said Jones.

The city also plans to keep the current tiered rate structure in place.

According to the city, the proposed water rates will be:

• In 2018: $731.72 for those getting their water from the Powers Creek treatment plant and $643.97 for those getting water from the Rose Valley reservoir.

• In 2019: $808.81 (Powers Creek treatment plant) and $743.56 (Rose Valley)

• In 2020: $854.75 (Powers Creek treatment plant) and $836.50 (Rose Valley)

• In 2021 (when the new Rose Valley treatment plant is built): $930.36 for all West Kelowna water customers, regardless of which treatment plant they get their water from.

An open house will be held Oct 19 at the Lions Community Hall in Westbank to present the plan to the public with city officials on hand to explain the plan, the proposed new rates and provide information.

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