Monday could bring relief to Kelowna water woes - InfoNews

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Monday could bring relief to Kelowna water woes

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February 25, 2017 - 9:49 AM

KELOWNA - Monday could be an important step in the path to clean drinking water for all residents of Kelowna.

That's when council is expected to receive a report that could set the future for the city's five water purveyors and perhaps a blueprint to unite them.

The City commissioned Strategic Value Solutions to consult on Kelowna’s Integrated Water Plan in December 2016. The plan will be presented at Monday's afternoon council meeting at 1:30. 

The report itself wasn't made available to the public, as agenda items normally are, so it's unclear exactly what is coming, but it's expected to help sort the bureaucratic and political mess that leaves poor water quality across much of the city and perhaps in time to engage senior levels of government for funding to fix the infrastructure itself.

Water is provided to different areas of the city by five separate irrigation districts - the City of Kelowna, Black Mountain, Glenmore-Ellison, South East Kelowna and Rutland Water Works. Having separate irrigation districts means each has its own administration, board of directors, tax base, delivery infrastructure and water source. Consequently, each district has individual levels of water quality, as well as supply.

Kelowna City Council made water a top priority since it was elected in 2014, and Mayor Colin Basran has emphasized council's impatience with long range plans to unite the districts: Councillors want this solved now.

“This was borne out of frustration with the lack of progress," Basran told iNFOnews in September 2015. "We are a world-class city but a large portion of our residents do not have safe drinking water.”

He has said 35 per cent of Kelowna residents get water that does not always meet Canadian Drinking Water Guidelines.

Irrigation districts were once vital to the growth of agriculture in the Okanagan, but times have changed. Senior levels of government don't offer grants to that level of government, meaning any expensive fixes must be borne by residents alone. 

That's resolved if they all fold under the City of Kelowna.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Jenna Hickman or call 250-808-0143 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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