Citizens call for drastic changes to Greater Vernon Water

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VERNON - A citizens group is calling on local politicians to overhaul plans for Greater Vernon’s water supply, including the cost to residents.

Citizens for Changes to the Master Water Plan made their case to Vernon City Council Monday afternoon, asking for support in taking a “fresh new look” at the plan.

Spokesperson Eric Jackson said the average user’s water bill has nearly doubled to $841 since 2010.

“High water costs are driving away citizens and businesses, and are negatively impacting agricultural production, all of which is making Vernon less competitive with other Okanagan cities,” Jackson said.

He said the rates are a hardship for many users, and noted nearby communities have much lower water fees, such as Kelowna with an average annual water bill of $291 and Penticton, with $427.

“The net result is brown lawns because citizens cannot afford to water them anymore, a reluctance to grow vegetables and flowers, and a community definitely not in bloom,” Jackson said.

“And we still don’t meet Interior Health Authority drinking water objectives.”

Jackson said the failed Greater Vernon Water referendum (which asked voters to borrow up to $70 million for upgrades) demonstrated residents are against spending money upgrading the Duteau Creek water supply.  In addition to lowering water rates, the group wants Greater Vernon politicians to look at switching to Kalamalka and Okanagan Lakes as the primary sources for potable water, and using Duteau Creek solely for irrigation.

Coun. Juliette Cunningham, who also chairs the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee, said the Citizens for Changes to the Master Water Plan will be invited to a public consultation meeting sometime in the future.

“We’re at the early stages of reviewing the consequences of the failure of the referendum,” Cunningham said.

The group also requested an independent review of the Master Water Plan. 

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

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