The Government of British Columbia (B.C.) is helping Salt Spring Islanders move toward better water service with a $50,000 grant to the Capital Regional District, which will study options to better manage water on the island.
“Water management is an important issue for our region that requires a co-ordinated approach,” said Colin Plant, board chair of the Capital Regional District. “This funding for a water optimization study on Salt Spring is the first step in identifying options for improving water service delivery and managing water effectively on the island.”
The island’s public water is currently delivered by five different authorities, making it challenging to provide service and cost savings to residents. The funding for the study was requested by the Capital Regional District and the North Salt Spring Waterworks District, the largest provider of water on the island.
“It’s encouraging to see everyone coming together to ease long-standing water concerns for Salt Spring Islanders,” said Selina Robinson, minister of municipal affairs and housing. “Our government is pleased to support this work to better co-ordinate limited resources, improve water delivery, and better meet the needs of people who live on the island.”
The study will gather feedback from stakeholders, develop shared goals, and explore two main improvement options:
- Improving integration and co-ordination of water service delivery on Salt Spring Island while maintaining North Salt Spring Waterworks District’s status as an independent public water service provider.
- Creating a unified Capital Regional District-Salt Spring water commission and centralizing operation and administration of water service, converting the North Salt Spring Waterworks District to a Capital Regional District service.
“Water resources on Salt Spring are limited and shortages are common, especially during the summer,” said Michael McAllister, board chair of the North Salt Spring Waterworks District. “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, this water service optimization study may provide valuable information that will help the NSSWD board of trustees make decisions in the best interests of its ratepayers.”
The study is expected to be completed by spring 2020 when the North Salt Spring Waterworks District board of trustees and the Capital Regional District board will review the options and determine next steps.
Header image credit: Michal Klajban.