Water under the bridge

Kristi Patton’s article April 6, “RDOS wades into West Bench issue” is excellent in its outlining of the water system situation for those of us resident on the West Bench.

I think that for most residents who did take the time to learn our actual situation as far as (a) what we would get from Penticton if we voted to go with the city’s filtered-water system; (b) what the likely ramifications regarding grant money would be if we voted no; and (c) what would happen to our water rates if nothing was done soon; the choice at the vote was clear. For those who didn’t bother to learn the facts and/or listened to the massive mis- and dis-information being put out as ‘fact’ by certain people, the response was to vote ‘no’ and hope that somehow, miraculously, things would remain the same or a less expensive alternative to the city’s offer would be found that would also allow the government grants to remain available. Unfortunately, that was two-thirds of those who voted.

The latter’s thinking seemed to be that the current system was OK without upgrades (wrong), Interior Health would ignore us and we could just continue on as we have been (wrong), and that our rates would remain more or less the same and much lower than Penticton was offering (also very wrong). Now we’re in the situation of having to turn to the RDOS and the province to get us out of a mess that was avoidable.

Another referendum seems to me to be a waste of money as long as there remain people here who refuse to admit that anyone else knows more about the situation than they do and who have their own selfish, and flawed, agenda to push.

As someone who uses a very low amount of water compared to other properties on the Bench (one of 10 trial meters is on my line), I am very angry at having to pay the same amount for my water as others who use far more because the vote went against going with the city’s offer, which, incidentally, included metering. I’m sure I’m not alone in this annoyance. I have no objection to paying for high-quality water, and while the city’s offer may not have been perfect (what is?), it was a huge improvement over the status quo. Now we’re in the situation of having to borrow millions for essential line upgrades, but without any government grants.

My water bill has gone from a little over $900 last year to over $1,600 this year because of the latter situation. I dearly hope that when those who voted ‘no’ in the referendum consider their water bill for this year they realize the error they made and do not stand in the way of any fair deal the RDOS and province can work out for us that includes the grants. It would just be deliciously ironic if that turned out to be hooking into Penticton’s system.

Eva Durance