As I have said in the past, the wheels of government often turn slowly, however they do continue to turn. Most recently an agreement was signed between the RDOS and the District of Summerland to extend domestic water service to the community of Faulder. It was not a huge announcement, but it is most certainly a very significant and important one. If you have been following this issue, you may recall that the community of Faulder has had a number of water challenges over the past few years. Uranium in the groundwater supply necessitated the need to potentially drill a new well. However more recent concerns regarding the long term sustainability of the aquifer made this a costly and somewhat risky endeavor for all involved. Fortunately there was a common sense and cost effective solution, extending the domestic water supply from Summerland to Faulder, and perform some other much needed upgrades during the construction process.
It is a somewhat complex agreement, however it is ultimately a win-win solution that will benefit water users and in both communities, and also offers taxpayers excellent value. Water is easily one of our most valuable and underappreciated resources and that makes this project all that more important. However it did not happen by accident. A small group of Faulder residents first identified the potential for long term problems with constructing an additional well and set about to work with their locally elected regional district area director to find a better solution.
Through the due diligence of the area director, the District of Summerland was approached and again I must commend the Summerland mayor and council for having the political will to back this important project as well. From that point staff within both the District of Summerland and the RDOS worked diligently to create a project and an agreement that was beneficial to all parties. The agreement is now signed and this project can move forward to the next phase.
From a Provincial perspective grant funding that was made available to drill the well can now be used to help construct the expansion to help keep this project affordable for the Faulder ratepayers. By the time of the expected completion, this problem and related solution will have been on the books for less than three years. While this is still a significant period of time, in the world of government and infrastructure projects, this is easily one of the more expedited projects I have come across in many years.
There is much that can be learned from the community of Faulder receiving domestic water from the District of Summerland through this process. What is most important is that it illustrates the difference a group of citizens can make in their community. When people work together at all levels of government in partnership with local residents we can most certainly do great things. The Faulder water project is evidence of that.
I would like to take a moment to formerly thank the local residents who got involved, RDOS area F Director Michael Brydon, Summerland Mayor Perrino and council, and the staff at both the RDOS and the District of Summerland. Your combined efforts have ensured a community will have a safe and healthy water supply, and your respective taxpayers have received maximum value in this important project. Job well done.
Bill Barisoff is the MLA for Penticton.