Kamloops to continue Nobel Creek Irrigation System at cost of $1.7 million | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kamloops to continue Nobel Creek Irrigation System at cost of $1.7 million

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The City of Kamloops will continue operating the Nobel Creek Irrigation system until 2023 while grant funding is being pursued, at a $1.7 million cost to the city and a 15% increase in rates for irrigation users per year.

Kamloops councillors decided Dec. 8 during a regular council meeting that the city will continue operating the irrigation system until September 2023 as staff pursue other funding options. Forty-seven farmers use the system and the 15% rate increase per year was approved by council until an annual operating deficit is eliminated.

Earlier this year, city staff highlighted that $14 million in capital works is needed for the city to continue to operate the irrigation system, which provides non-potable water to properties located near Dairy Road and Westsyde Road, according to city reports.

Council initially directed staff back in August to initiate an improvement program for the water system where 80 per cent of the $14 million cost would be paid by the farmers, but after feedback from farmers about the impact of the cost, council rescinded the resolutions.

During the Dec. 8 meeting, councillors directed staff to create a task force led by chief administrative officer David Trawin, to pursue potential grant funding for one of the following options: The $14 million required for the city to continue operating the irrigation system, the work deemed necessary to sell the irrigation system to its users or for irrigation users to obtain other sources of irrigation water so that the irrigation system may be decommissioned.

A council report indicated that to continue the operation of the irrigation system, $1.715 million in capital work is required within the next five years. The largest single cost within those five years is for erosion protection work to protect the intake from a complete loss.

"The (irrigation system’s) intake’s location, design, and construction occurred before the City inherited the asset, and limited prior efforts to protect the structure by placing rip-rap upstream have not been successful. The estimated cost for the erosion protection work is $1.095 million, and staff strongly recommend this work occur within three years to prevent a potential catastrophic loss of the intake,” according to the report.

The other roughly $620,000 is mainly for pump replacement work and other optimization work intended to help the system operate more efficiently with the hope of reducing operating costs, according to the report. The $1.715 million will be taken from the city’s water utility reserve.

After some discussion, council agreed to the staff’s recommendations and approved of the task force.

If grant funding is not obtained, council directed staff to seek council’s further direction in 2022 for the future operation of the irrigation system beyond 2023.

Council also passed a motion in early November to research options to develop an agricultural engagement or advisory group and supported the terms laid out by staff for the new agriculture group during the Dec. 8 meeting.

The new group will provide input on the following: Official Community Plan amendment reviews as they relate to agricultural land, zoning bylaw changes or rezoning application reviews as they relate to agricultural land, Agricultural Land Commission application, urban agriculture/food security reviews and agricultural awareness, including farm tours and other agricultural events/celebrations, according to the latest council report.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Carli Berry or call 250-864-7494 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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