Water policy has costly implications

The Kaleden Irrigation District held its annual general meeting on April 28, sparsely attended by nine ratepayers.

The Kaleden Irrigation District held its annual general meeting on April 28, sparsely  attended by nine ratepayers.

By the end of the meeting, however, there appeared to be a general consensus amongst those in attendance that the next time a meeting is held –  in all liklihood, sooner than a year’s time – Kaleden Community Hall will be much fuller than it was on Monday night.

The issue that is expected to result in greatly increased public attention concerns the recent ramping up of a provincially ordered policy being enforced by Interior Health concerning water quality standards for water  purveyors across the province.

To summarize the issue, the Kaleden Irrigation District faces future expenditures that could exceed $20,000 per ratepayer in order to satisfy the drinking water guidelines currently being mandated by the province.

A big question arising Monday night concerned funding for the secondary disinfection and filtration processes being imposed by the province. Irrigation districts – like those of Kaleden, Keremeos and Okanagan Falls – do not have access to higher levels of government funding, so under current legislation, those costs would be totally borne by the ratepayers of the district.

Other considerations discussed Monday night concerned such things as the necessisty of the legislation, exemption guidelines (Kaleden is expected to bear costs exceeding 10 million dollars for further water treatment because the district contains 533 subscribers, whereas Lakeshore Highlands, sourcing its water from the same lake, would not have to spend a dime, because that district has less than 500 ratepayers.)


The issue is complex, but it appears that Monday’s meeting could be the catalyst that brings about healthy Kaleden ratepayer involvement in this potentially economically crippling legislation. For Keremeos residents, the issue may not be quite so immediate in nature, primarily due to the fact that the village’s water is sourced from underground, not surface sources. But the potential for equally crippling costs to be borne by Keremeos Irrigation District ratepayers is very real – and ratepayers would be wise to start asking questions sooner, rather than later.