Sage Mesa Water missed another round of grants

  • Posted on: 3 November 2016
  • By: Michael Brydon

The RDOS finalized it list of projects for the Clean Water and Wastewater Fund grants program and the Sage Mesa water system is not on the list.  I see this as a significant missed opportunity for Area F.

Board report

The RDOS cannot apply for a grant for the Sage Mesa water system because the RDOS does not own or control the system.  The system is privately owned by the Chapman family but has been managed and controlled by the provincial government out of Victoria since the system was seized in the 1990s.  The province contracts with the RDOS to maintain the system (swing the wrenches) but the RDOS has no decision making authority concerning the system.

This situation is not sustainable in my view.  The system currently does not meet Interior Health's 4-3-2-1-0 water quality guideline and is facing the possibility of a health order to mandate upgrades.  Since a privately-owned system is not eligible for senior government grants, all system costs must be borne by its ratepayers.  Thus, if the system is ordered by IHA to meet the 4-3-2-1-0 guideline, or if there is a major failure of the aging infrastructure, the 265 ratepayers in Sage Mesa, Husula, and Westwood are on the hook for 100% of the costs.

According to a 2012 engineering study commissioned the the RDOS, the per-property cost of meeting IHA's guildeline is between $9,500 and $12,000 per property.  This is only capital upgrades and does not include the ongoing costs of running a water utility.

2012 Sage Mesa water system evaluation

The outcome I would have preferred is the following:

  1. Transfer of the system to RDOS ownership (at no cost, of course; the system is a pure liability, not an asset).
  2. Apply for senior government grants to upgrade the supply and distribution system.  Grants are never certain, but I can absolute guarantee the system will not get a grant in its current configuration.
  3. Upgrade the system to:
    1. meet water quality standards
    2. replace at-risk infrastructure (water lines)
    3. address capacity issues


To this end, we (me and RDOS staff) have met with a member of the Chapman family, representatives of Interior Health, the system manager from Victoria. various provincial staff and ministers many times over the years in order to move forward.  No resolution.

My objective in scribbling this update to make sure that ratepayers on the Sage Mesa system understand the situation and the downside risks they face.

As usual, comments and questions are welcome.




You mention in your post that there has been no resolution to meetings with the Chapman rep and Interior health . What is the main stumbling block in these talks?.
Living on Tyrone Place for the past 27 years we have noticed a distinct drop off in water pressure and quality . In fact we are now getting brown ( rust?) rings in our sinks .

We use bottled water to brush our teeth and tap water is boiled . I was astonished to read that this potable water is not even screened!. Surely there is a solution to his problem ?.

Thanks for your time.

Alan Lloyd 2110 Tyrone Place. 492 4284

I actually do not know what the main stumbling blocks are. I am not privy to discussions between the Chapman family, Interior Health, and the province on this issue. My only objective in all this is to make sure the RDOS is NOT the stumbling block.

As for rust and minerals, I have not yet noticed this in my water. All water for Sage Mesa, Westwood, and Husula comes from the same place. The only difference is that Husula and Westwood (and some of Sage Mesa?) use the upper reservoir in the woods west of Forsythe Place. I will pass your complaint along to RDOS public works. Perhaps they can do some testing to identify the location of the problem. Could be Husula water mains or something on your side of the property line.

As for water safety: All water from the upper reservoir is continuously monitored for chlorine residual. Those of us using the upper reservoir are better off than those close to the intake on Okanagan Lake because our water has sufficient contact time with chlorine before it arrives at our taps. This is why residents in the lower section of Sage Mesa have a standing boil water notice: their water is chlorinated but their homes are so close to the pump house on Okanagan Lake that Interior Health (the regulator) cannot be sure that the chlorine has sufficient time to react with any organic contaminants that might be in the water. Put it this way: my family drinks the water from our taps.

Interesting. I must have misread I thought you wrote; that you ( and the RDOS staff ) had met with the Chapman family and indeed with interior health and the province, without resolution . From that I gathered that someone was putting a block in the way of the RDOS applying for grants.

I have no problem with using the water , but I would think for charges in excess of $900.00 per year we would receive something that is nothing more than swimming pool water. ( In fact my pool water is filtered and chemicals added to prevent mineral corrosion .)Our drinking water is not.

I am not pointing any fingers here , just curious as to why things haven't progressed.

Alan Lloyd.

The RDOS has met with the decision makers many times. But then nothing happens. Ostensibly this is because not everyone is convinced that the RDOS should own the system.

Without ownership of the system the RDOS cannot apply for grants. Ownership is a precondition for application. Private water systems and even irrigation districts are not eligible for provincial grants.