South East Kelowna residents facing big rate hikes

South East Kelowna Irrigation District is upgrading its water delivery system to meet provincial standards.

KELOWNA - Water managers from the South East Kelowna Irrigation District heard loud and clear from residents concerned with the $23.7-million price tag for a water system upgrade.

Irrigation district chair Brian Wright described the discussion around the proposed system as “robust” but claimed most residents understand it has little choice but to upgrade water delivery and quality to meet provincial standards.

Described as a “non-borrowing solution,” the irrigation district is proposing to spend the money in a two-phase upgrade over the next 18 years. This follows rejection in 2012 by voters in the service area when the district used the alternative approval process to try and finance the project.

The first phase, which involves drilling two wells and constructing a new residential delivery system, will begin construction in 2017 and should come online in 2019.

The second phase will be reserved for delivering untreated water through the existing pipe system to agricultural users. Construction on phase two will not begin until phase one is finished and will not be fully complete until 2033.

Residents in the more densly populated portions of the irrigation district’s coverage area — McCulloch, Gallagher’s Canyon and the Hall Road area — will begin paying a $20 per month levy July 1.

Residents in the phase two area will begin paying a $10 per month levy in 2019, upon completion of the first phase.

Current water tolls will continue to increase five per cent per year until both phases are complete in 2033, adding $2.30 per month for the rest of 2015. The exisiting water tax will continue to be applied, increasing by five per cent per year until 2020, then decreasing by two per cent until 2033.

District officials estimate homeowners in the phase one area living in a single-family home will pay approximatley $890.00 per year for water, beginning July 1.

Besides the open house held on April 30, the district has mailed out newsletters and is planning a second open house May 21 at East Kelowna Hall.

To contact the reporter for this story, email John McDonald at or call 250-808-0143. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

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