Regional district weighs options for West Bench water

The West Bench Irrigation District and the Regional District of the Okanagan Similkameen met recently with residents of the West Bench area to discuss options for a proposed water system upgrade.

  • Aug. 9, 2011 3:00 p.m.

The West Bench Irrigation District and the Regional District of the Okanagan Similkameen met recently with residents of the West Bench area to discuss options for a proposed water system upgrade.

Responsibility for the West Bench water system was recently transferred to the RDOS as a part of its consultation process after a decade of discussion over the current water system that is not up to Interior Health standards.

The RDOS, who has estimated the total cost of the upgrade to be around $10 million, has already started to implement tasks in order to get the process rolling with surveys and open discussion in hopes of getting construction started in a year.

After the survey is taken on the four main upgrade options, which will be coming out when the RDOS and the City of Penticton finalize accurate cost information, the RDOS will have a better idea of what the area wants, enabling them to hold a referendum by November.

“(The options) are all very neck and neck,” said Michael Brydon, RDOS director electoral for the West Bench area, during the meeting where about 100 of 350 residents of the area turned out.

“It all depends on inflation and interest rates. It’s a real apples and oranges problem here … All the alternatives we are looking at have positive and negative aspects. One issue raised concerns the long-term costs of the Penticton options where costs include capital, operations, debt servicing and inflation.”

Brydon is close to the issue as he lives in Sage Mesa, which also faces an impending water system upgrade.

Brydon said the RDOS met with the City of Penticton last week to discuss ways of getting Penticton’s bid more in line with the long-term costs of the stand-alone treatment options.

The West Bench water system is currently only filtered with chlorine. Residents have been boiling their water since it tested poor on May 24.

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