Al Lister, who has been the Chief Water System Operator for the Sage Mesa system retired recently, as did his crew currently consisting of Jim Grasswick and Frank Lamberty. As a result, the Water Stewardship Division of the provincial Ministry of Environment (the entity that runs, but not owns, the Sage Mesa water system) had to find a water operator with the necessary level of training and certification.
Initially, the Province went to the City of Penticton to negotiate a maintenance contract similar to the one between Penticton and the West Bench Irrigation District. This made some sense to me, at least as a short term measure, since the Penticton is close by and is already dispatching trucks up the hill for the WBID contract. However, for whatever reason, Penticton chose not to take on this contract. That left the RDOS little choice but to step in and offer its services to the province.
The RDOS already runs four water systems, including the relatively large UV treatment in Naramata, so we certainly have the organizational capacity (certified personnel, expertise, etc.) to operate and maintain the Sage Mesa system. Moreover, many of the costs of operating these water systems, such as engineers, operators, geographical information systems, trucks, and so on, are fixed costs. Thus, the RDOS will likely realize some efficiencies in running the Sage Mesa system.
The letter describing the transfer will be sent to all ratepayers on the Sage Mesa system (a copy is here). Please note that this arrangement is operations only and has nothing to do with ownership or capital improvement (e.g., water mains, hydrants, etc.). That all will come later.