Water service study on the way

Outcomes include independent waterworks or CRD centralization

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The North Salt Spring Waterworks District and the Capital Regional District have asked the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing to fund a study that will help optimize water delivery on Salt Spring Island.

Two targeted outcomes from the study are to either improve water service delivery on the island while keeping the NSSWD independent, or to create a consolidated service under the control of the CRD. Draft terms of reference for the study were presented at a special meeting at the NSSWD office on Wednesday, July 10. The meeting was scheduled to occur before a CRD Electoral Areas Committee meeting later that morning in Victoria where the committee voted on the same issue. The Electoral Areas Committee also voted to approve the request for funding. 

Due to ongoing water shortages on Salt Spring as well as a NSSWD moratorium on new connections, the CRD and NSSWD recognize that improving the water service and delivery would benefit residents.

The study will look at ways to improve coordination between the public water service providers on the island. It will look at how the different service providers make decisions about services, stakeholder and public views, shared goals as well as the two options listed above.

One theme that was prominent during the 2017 referendum on governance was the need for greater inter-agency collaboration, particularly regarding issues such as the management of water,” said Electoral Area Director for Salt Spring Island Gary Holman,  in a press release.

In addition to the study, work is being done to scope out a potential CRD Drinking Water and Watershed Protection Service for the island.

Similar services exist in the Regional District of Nanaimo and in the Cowichan Valley Regional District.

The two groups submitted a joint application to the ministry for $50,000 in funding to complete the study, which will be undertaken over the coming year. Both options were included in the draft terms of reference because it was felt that they reflected both the CRD’s and the NSSWD’s interests.

NSSWD board chair Michael McAllister said that he supports the funding request “as it may provide valuable information that will help the NSSWD Board of Trustees make a decision in the best interests of its ratepayers.”

If successful, the CRD will choose a consultant to undertake the study this summer, and a detailed project schedule is expected in the fall. The terms of reference timeline has a completion date of spring 2020 for the final report. Once the report is finalized, the results will be passed on to the ministry and NSSWD from the CRD.

This story has been updated. 

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