The West Bench Irrigation District was created in 1953, more than a decade before the establishment of regional districts in British Columbia. The WBID has its own elected board of trustees, taxing authority, and website (
Update June 2011: At the request of the West Bench Irrigation District’s (WBID) Board of Trustees, the Province of British Columbia has officially dissolved WBID and transferred responsibility for the West Bench water system to the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen (RDOS).
Recent changes in drinking water policy by Interior Health Authority (IHA) mean that the delivery of water on the West Bench is likely to change in the near future. Specifically, IHA now requires that drinking water be treated twice (WBID’s current system provides only single-stage chlorine treatment). An additional treatment stage—filtration or ultra-violet—requires significant capital investment; however, the Province of British Columbia has stipulated that provincial grants for such upgrades can only be awarded to municipalities or regional districts, not irrigation districts.
The implications of the provincial granting policy are clear: Either the WBID foregoes grants and funds a two-stage water treatment upgrade itself (through long-term debt and increased water rates) or it passes ownership and control of the West Bench water supply system to a municipality or regional district. The WBID discusses this decision in its October 2008 newsletter.
The impacts of IHA new water policy on the West Bench water system were reviewed at an open house held in September, 2007 (click here for the slides). Additional background information is available from the RDOS web site.