The Town of Osoyoos is looking to install universal water metering at a cost of $6 million. (File photo)

The Town of Osoyoos is looking to install universal water metering at a cost of $6 million. (File photo)

$6M for water metering to go to Osoyoos taxpayers for approval

Council has decided to go forward with the project but it needs the people’s vote now

The residents of Osoyoos will be next to decide on whether or not to implement water metering.

Councillors gave their unanimous approval to move forward with the universal metering plan, which will require borrowing $4.7 million in capital funding.

In recent years the town has instituted restrictions on watering due to the high demand and limited supply of water in the town. But with a lack of means of tracking water usage, enforcement has been lacking.

Being able to more accurately track water usage is one of the largest benefits of the new metering system, particularly when it comes to addressing demand. According to staff, despite the new bylaws on restricted watering during the summer and when water is scarce, the actual usage levels did not change.

The price tag for the project was a point of concern, however the borrowing will still have to go to the public for approval before any work could actually begin.

“We have time to get the taxpayers to understand it’s more than installing a meter in my house so you can charge me more for water,” said Coun. Bennett. “I think we’re probably the last community in the Okanagan that doesn’t have it.”

Bennett noted that metering would allow for better tracking of not just the water being sent to a property, but allow for a better understanding of the amount of water going into the sewer system, being shifted by the town’s pumps.

READ MORE: Osoyoos may spend $6 million on water metering

It was noted that with the high demand on water, the town would likely need to have a new well sooner than expected, particularly if the project does not get approval from the public.

“Our demand has crossed our current supply capacity,” staff told councillors. “We do not have enough water if one of our pumps breaks down right now.”

Last summer, Osoyoos went into level 3 drought water restrictions.

The new well is expected to cost more than implementing the metering, and is currently included in the five-year financial plan as a future project.

“Without some immediate action, we would have to bring Well #7 online and that’s $5 million.” “We’re running all of our wells, and if one breaks, we’re in emergency response mode.”

Delaying the well is another goal of this project, however it was noted by councillors and staff that with more housing and construction coming the growing demand would require the new well eventually.

The earliest that well could even be brought online would be 2024.

A question was raised about other funding sources, however grant funding for meter system implementation has dried up, according to staff.

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