Dec 2010 Faulder water update and newsletter


As you may know, the Faulder project has run into a couple of roadblocks since the summer:

  1. Summerland council stipulated some new conditions before agreeing to the deal, including a 15% premium over the water rate payable by District of Summerland residents
  2. The detailed design for the pipeline by Focus Engineering indicates that the cost of the pipeline is considerably more expensive than originally anticipated in the conceptual designs by Stantec Engineering (2010) and Associated Engineering (2008).  Specifically, the estimate cost of the pump station and booster has increased from $1,070,000 to $1,964,000.

The 15% surcharge was unanticipated; however, it did not change the economics of the deal in a significant way.  That is, the Summerland option was still the cheapest and least risky as of September, 2010.  The significant increase in the estimated cost of the waterline to Summerland is a different matter.  The net result is that the cost of the Summerland option has increased from an average ~$1,500 per year to ~$2,600 per year per Faulder household (see the two estimates).

We have identified four alternative courses of action:

  1. Stick with the Summerland plan at the increased average cost of ~$2,600/household/year.
  2. Reconsider the original option of a new well plus uranium treatment.  Nothing has changed regarding the reliablity of the aquifer.
  3. Reconsider the infiltration gallery/Ranney well adjacent to Trout Creek.  This entails significant environmental, political, and economic risk.
  4. Disband the Faulder Community Water system so that individual residents can provide their own water through private wells.

Alternative 4 arises due to the cost of the Summerland option.  The present value of $2,600/year for 20 years at 6% interest is approximately $30,000.  That is, residents should be indifferent between paying $30,000 today and paying $2,600 per year for the next 20 years.  The question Faulder residents have to ask is: Can I supply my own water (e.g., drill a new well) for less than $30,000? The cost savings in Alternative 4 arise from the fact that private wells are largely unregulated by the Province and Interior Heath.  As such, private well owners are not compelled to address the uranium problem.  Keep in mind of course that the unsolved uranium problem might lead to declines in property values.  Moreover, Alternative 4 does nothing to address aquifier risk and elminates the enconomies of scale achievable by a community water system.  These are things Faulder residents should consider when evaluating the alternatives.

We will be mailing out a newsletter with this information in the week before Christmas (click the image on the left for a draft version of the newsletter).  We will then meet after the holidays to discuss these alternatives in detail.  Please let me know if you have any questions or see the Faulder water page on the main RDOS website.




I received the following by email:

Speaking for this household, we strongly support Option #1 - continuing with the Summerland water hookup.


None of the other options can offer a solution to both the uranium issue and provision of a reliable supply of water and while costs have changed since the original quote, this option presents us with a concrete plan and the opportunity to see this issue finally resolved.  With respect to the cost, what price do we put on safe, reliable water, enjoyment of our properties and some assurance that our property values can be maintained?  For us, we believe $2600 per year is more than worth it.  Hopefully, through negotiation and possible compromises, as well as additional grant monies, the increased costs can be reduced.


In no way do we discount that the additional cost to each household may prove to be onerous for some.  However, in addition to your comment about residents asking if they can supply their own water for less than the $30K , they also have to ask if they are willing to run the risk of spending that amount of money on something that is not a sure thing (i.e. aquifer reliability), not to mention addressing the existing uranium levels.  Residents also have to consider the impact on property values without a reliable and safe water supply.  I know some folks have issues with the different taste quality of Summerland water vs. the aquifer water we have been able to enjoy so far.  Reality is that we can't rely on the aquifer any longer and there are reasonable alternatives, i.e. bottled drinking water if preferred.  Even those folks who aleady have a well and those with no plans to move must realize that intervening life circumstances (health, death, etc.) can force any one of us to have to sell and move and to be able to realize fair value for our property we need the Summerland plan.


Option #2 addresses the uranium issue but as you point out, does nothing to ensure reliable supply.  Option #3 puts us into the realm of a bureaucratic nightmare that would see us bogged down in countless studies and government agendas.  Option #4, for us, is not an option.  We bought our home in Faulder in good faith with the assurance of RDOS (not to mention our real estate agent) that we were being provided with a safe, reliable water supply and that that would continue.


I do question the 15% premium that we would have to pay.  Insofar as I can see, hooking the Faulder residents (who will bear the construction costs) up to Summerland doesn't strike me as any different than a new resident of Summerland applying for hookup to the system.  Why would we have to pay a premium?  Are we getting different service?  Will the treatment plant have to work harder?  Is the premium to pay for water meters?  Additional administrative costs?   It has already been communicated that the supply of water to Faulder represents a minimal draw on the supply and treatment plant so why the premium?


All residents of Faulder have their own reasons for living in this beautiful piece of the province but I believe we all share the ideal of being able to enjoy our homes and lifestyle.  A reliable water supply is a necessity. Having to face an ongoing water crisis most definitely compromises that enjoyment.