The provincial government has made one Towns For Tomorrow grant available to the RDOS each of the past few years. Last year the Faulder water system was selected by the RDOS board for its one and only application for the grant. Following the massive price increase in the Summerland option, we asked the RDOS board to consider Faulder for a second Towns For Tomorrow grant. The following is a full list of the projects considered by the RDOS board for submission to the Province:
- Vaseux Lake Wetlands
- Similkameen Valley Water Monitoring Wells
- Adra Spiral Tunnel Reconstruction
- Faulder Water System Upgrade
- Olalla Water Distribution System Upgrade
- Gallagher Lake Waste Water Treatment System
The debate was long and contentious because, as you can imagine, each of the 18 directors on the RDOS board has an interest in accessing the grant money. Plus, each of the projects above is compelling in its own right. Much to my surprise, Faulder was selected as the RDOS candidate for a grant. Although there are no guarantees that the RDOS application will ultimately be successful, the Provincial Government is well aware of the problems in Faulder and has been supportive of a second round of funding for the Summerland pipeline option.
So here is what our new number look like for the Summerland option (column on the far right). Please keep in mind that these are merely estimates given the best information we have at this time.
|Stantec Mar 2010||Focus 29 Oct 2010||With 2011 TfT Grant|
|Capital Cost (incl. contin & eng)||1,262,300||2,164,000||2,164,000|
|Annual Parcel Tax (MFA/ 20yrs/ 5%)||607||1,462||1,174|
|O & M + Meters|
|Summerland Rates ($382/yr)||29,812|
|+ MoU Rate Surcharge of 15%||34,284||34,284|
|Current Debt ($111/yr)||8,658||8,658||8,658|
|Water Meters ($400)||31,200||31,200||31,200|
|MoU Electrical Surcharge||5,000||5,000|
|MoU Reserve Surcharge||6,400||6,400|
|Total/ each of the 78 homes||893||1,097||1,097|
|New Annual Tax/ Rates||1,500||2,559|| 2,270
** see update below
We have a had quite a few meetings and discussions with the Faulder water advisory group (Jeff, Cindy, and Ivan, plus a few others as required). I don't think anyone is thrilled with ~$200/month for water. At the same time, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Water upgrades are hitting many people in the wallet. For example, the projected rates for a 2 acre property under the proposed Penticton-West Bench treatment deal are $2,351/household/year (see p. 16 of the WBID information package). West Bench voters ultimately voted that option down, but like Faulder, the status quo is not really viable. West Bench residents are going to deal with their water at some point. The question is whether they want the grants that have been made available to them. [Note: The RDOS has nothing to do with West Bench water; they operate their own utility]
- The problem with Faulder is simply distance from reliable water. The creek is nearby but it is already fully subscribed (the RDOS does not have a water license to serve Faulder residents). The aquifer underneath the community may or may not be viable; what I am hearing from residents is that it is on a long and steady decline. A pipeline from Summerland is turning out to be very expensive: $27,000 per resident, and this is before paying Summerland for the treated water.
- We have good grant support: about $17,000 per resident.
- The cost (in terms of property values) of the current uncertainty around water is likely significant. I am hearing that people are unable to sell their homes. This is a real cost that must be considered relative to the cost of solving the water problem.
So here is where we stand today. RDOS staff and the Faulder water advisory committee are still investigating alternatives to the Summerland option. We want to make that every possiblitity is investigated before making a final decision. Having said that, a final decision needs to be made soon.
Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.