RDEK Clarifies – No “Done Deal”
The status of water and sewer services for many communities on the east side of Lake Windermere has been the focus of much discussion and the Regional District of East Kootenay wants to make it clear that no agreements have been reached with respect to how existing or future RDEK systems are serviced.
“There is a lot of misinformation circulating and it is very important to me as the Area Director, and to the RDEK Board as a whole, that people have the facts,” says Electoral Area F Director Wendy Booth. “The issues related to water and sewer servicing are complex and it is critically important to understand that every community has to be considered individually. Every agreement would have to be approved by the affected community and the RDEK Board.”
Currently, the RDEK is working on several projects and studies simultaneously and this may be contributing to the confusion for some. Booth stresses it is important for people to have the facts, which include:
· There are no finalized agreements between the RDEK and Windermere Water and Sewer Company (WWS).
· Having already received the assent of the electors in the community of Baltac, there are two agreements in the draft stage for Baltac Sewer servicing. These agreements would be for construction of the sewer system and then the operation and maintenance. The RDEK will own the infrastructure, WWS will operate and maintain the system under agreement with the RDEK. The final agreements will require Board approval.
· Any other agreements related to water or sewer service would require the assent of the community and RDEK Board first.
· One of the options being investigated by the RDEK, as part of it ongoing efforts to identify water service options for Windermere and Timber Ridge is the purchase of treated bulk water from WWS. Provincial regulations require that surface water be treated (filtered and chlorinated) to address possible contamination in community water systems. Construction costs for a new water treatment facility would be very high, especially when it would duplicate a service that is available from an existing plant. Point of use (at the tap) treatment systems do not meet the Provincial standards for treatment of community water.
· The communities will be informed at a public meeting and would have to give assent to capital upgrades required for systems to accept treated bulk water, before the RDEK would enter into an agreement.
· If assent was given by a community, the RDEK would own its system just as it does now; it would simply be purchasing the water from the private company.
“There seems to be some misunderstanding about a recently announced agreement between Windermere Water and Sewer and Kinbasket Water and Sewer,” adds Booth. “The RDEK is not a party to their agreement and when examining servicing options for communities on the east side, it is Windermere Water and Sewer that we deal with.” The new servicing strategy being proposed by Windermere Water and Sewer and Kinbasket Water and Sewer may provide new options for communities on the east side. The RDEK Board has supported the arrangement on the condition that any agreements with the RDEK would be looked at on a community to community basis with the full understanding that there could be more than one option. Staff have been asked by the Board to investigate what those agreements might look like. “The bottom line is that communities will be informed if and when a proposal comes forward. There will be formal public consultation in the affected communities and nothing will happen without elector assent,” emphasizes Booth.
Booth is asking residents to be patient as staff work to complete the studies and the investigation necessary so that affected communities have all the information they need to make an informed decision.
Although the recent financial difficulties of Copper Point Resort are unrelated in any way to the servicing issues for the RDEK, it has contributed to the confusion for some people. Windermere Water and Sewer’s President and Chief Financial Officer Paul Partlo says Windermere Water and Sewer’s financial status and commitment to the community is unchanged. “Windermere Water and Sewer is operationally and structurally separate from Copper Point Resort. The Resort accounted for only 100 condo units out of a customer base that is forecast to approach 2500 households over the next 5 years. So the impact is noticeable, but not critical. Our work with the other communities continues as usual.”
The RDEK is preparing a Fact Sheet to post on its website and is encouraging people with questions about water or sewer services to contact their Engineering Services Department at 1-888-478-7335.