The Capital Regional District (CRD) and North Salt Spring Waterworks District (NSSWD) have announced a joint request for provincial funding to conduct a water service optimisation study on Salt Spring Island.

“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 Gary Holman, electoral area director for Salt Spring Island. “My thanks to the NSSWD Board for their willingness to work with the CRD in examining options to improve water management on Salt Spring.”

A coordinated approach will leverage joint resources and review ways to improve coordination between the public water service providers on Salt Spring to identify options that improve water service delivery. Current governance and administration will be reviewed as well as gathering stakeholder views and goals for water service optimization.

The water optimisation study will focus on two different options for NSSWD and the CRD to improve water service delivery on Salt Spring and make recommendations on next steps for each option should the CRD and NSSWD decide to move forward:

Option 1: improve integration and coordination of service delivery on Salt Spring while maintaining NSSWD’s status as an independent public water service provider.

Option 2: create a consolidated CRD Salt Spring Water Commission and centralize operation and administration of Salt Spring water service on island (this option would include conversion of NSSWD to a CRD service).

“Water resources on Salt Spring are limited and shortages are common, especially during the summer,” said Michael McAllister, chair of NSSWD. “Managing island-wide water issues effectively is critical to the future of Salt Spring. While I personally remain of the view that an island wide independent governance structure is the best model for Salt Spring, I support this funding request for this Water Service Optimization Study as it may provide valuable information that will help the NSSWD Board of Trustees make decisions in the best interests of its ratepayers.”

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Salt Spring water service delivery is carried out by multiple agencies, including the CRD, NSSWD, other smaller improvement districts and private utilities, making it difficult to achieve economies of scale and a coordinated approach to water service delivery. Moving forward, there is recognition by both the CRD and NSSWD that better integration of water service delivery and management would benefit all residents on the island.

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