The City of Kelowna has announced the contractor for the first phase implementation of its integrated water system and provided details on how it will be integrating its two existing systems.

Emil Anderson Construction (EAC) Inc. will initiate work on the main transmission line in the South Mission with an expected July start date. Construction of the new drinking water system in South East Kelowna will be awarded contingent upon Council approval of a $22-million project budget amendment on Monday, May 14th.

The South East Kelowna Irrigation District (SEKID) portion of the overall project cost is $58.2 million, 60 per cent of which will be covered by senior government grant funding. The largest cost of the SEKID portion, $51.4 million, is for building the new drinking water distribution system in South East Kelowna, which will separate drinking and irrigation water.

“The $43.9 million grant is a significant benefit to SEKID ratepayers and will see clean drinking water delivered to all South East Kelowna residents as per Interior Health’s mandate­—in some areas, 10 years earlier than planned,” said Richard King, SEKID Board Chair.

The rise in project cost is due in part to the high volume of infrastructure projects across the province, as well as the increased service demand requirements in some areas of South East Kelowna.

“In an additional effort to reduce the financial impact to SEKID ratepayers, the City altered the scope the project slightly and deferred some components,” said Alan Newcombe, Infrastructure Director. “Grant funding of $8.8 million originally for a main transmission line on KLO and associated expansion of reservoir capacity have been reallocated to cover some of the SEKID’s project costs.”

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The City of Kelowna and SEKID have been working on a transition plan over the past year to ensure a seamless transition of the district into the City Utility. As a legislative requirement of self-financing, SEKID will dissolve at the province’s direction earlier than originally anticipated, the expected date of dissolution I at the end of May.

“Through this process, the Board has worked with the City to make the transition as smooth as possible for ratepayers.” says King. “Starting July 1st, a $32 monthly project levy will be implemented. In 2021, when ratepayers move to lower city domestic water rates, the fee will increase to approximately $40 per month, but the average domestic ratepayer should see total annual costs remain relatively stable.”

The integration of SEKID starts a new era that will see the City Utility also operating and delivering irrigation water to support agriculture. Staff is also proposing a number of actions for Council’s consideration that will support a smooth transition and ensure agriculture continues to have a strong voice when it comes to the delivery and security of irrigation water.

City of Kelowna employee Mike Gosselin has joined staff at the SEKID office as the Transition Rural Irrigation Operations Manager and will work with staff to slowly amalgamate services with the City Utility through 2019.

In the short term, all operations, billing and customer service will be conducted as usual for SEKID ratepayers.

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