News, Taxes & Grants, Water

Summary of the Saltair Water Advisory Committee May 4, 2017 Presentation

Thank you for attending our Saltair Water Advisory Committee (SWAC) Meeting.
We gave you a lot of information, and we thought that you would like to see some of
the points we raised once again.  Don’t forget to email us at saltairwater@gmail.com if you have any comments or questions for us. Please talk to your neighbours and friends and get them to sign up using our email to receive our notices – this is very important!

Summary of the SWAC May 4, 2017 Presentation

1) SWAC is autonomous and independent from ALL groups in Saltair.

2) The SWAC team has spent many hours – especially Lynne Smith researching and learning about our water system and those of other areas. We attend water committee meetings, CVRD meetings, workshops and meetings with watershed groups.  Our goal and motivation is to ensure all Saltair Water users are kept up to date and informed about our system.

3) The 2012 Petition created CVRD Bylaw 3615.  This Bylaw gives the CVRD the authority to collect our additional voluntary increase in our annual water taxation. This Bylaw does not state that:

a) there is 15 year time frame,

b) the financial cap of $4.5 Million would not be exceeded,

c) that the $300,000 yearly additional taxation is only for distribution upgrades.

4) SWAC has approached our CVRD Area G Director, various departments of the CVRD, made presentations to the Electoral Area Services Committee (EASC), and even had a special meeting with the CVRD Board Chair (Mr. Lefebure), the CVRD CAO, CVRD engineering staff members, and Area G Director Mel Dorey on 19 Jul 2016.  We presented information taxpayers had been presented at the time of the petition in 2012, the CVRD’s lack of large grant applications for the water system upgrades of $4.5M and other concerns.  We have not seen any CVRD movement toward amending Bylaw 3615 to this date.  We now have confirmation from the BC Government that Bylaw 3615 can be
amended and we will be returning to the CVRD – EASC to ask again to have Bylaw 3615 amended to include the 15 year time frame and the exact usage of the $300,000 funds.

5) At the 2011/12 CVRD meetings leading up to the Petition, we were also told that Gas Tax money (now called Canada Works Fund (CWF)) would go to our water system upgrades, and the CVRD would also apply for grants.  We were cautioned that grants
were not guaranteed but there was a clear indication by CVRD staff the grants would be applied for.

6) Area G – Gas Tax Funds (CWF) Grants:  Saltair did get Gas tax money in 2012 ($145,000) that was used in the 2013 upgrades.  As to the latest 5-year (2015-2019) Area G – Gas Tax Grant of $438,364, it is up to our Area Director Mel Dorey as to how much, if any, will be allocated to the Saltair taxpayers’ water distribution system’s $4.5M aging distribution upgrades.  In 2012, Area Director Mel Dorey promised the Gas Tax money received would go to the Saltair Water System distribution upgrades.  These Gas Tax funds have been available since 2015 but have been withheld by the Area Director from the $4.5M aging infrastructure distribution upgrades.  The Area G Director Mel Dorey has moved $0 from the Area G – Gas Tax (CWF) 2015-2019 allocation to the Saltair Water System Budget $4.5M upgrades.  If these funds had been allocated to the water budget in 2015, the Saltair Water distribution system upgrades would be at least a year ahead and breaks that have occurred may have not occurred.

7) Large Grants applications by the CVRD for the Saltair Water System $4.5M distribution upgrades:  In 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016, the CVRD did not apply for any large grants for the Saltair Water $4.5M distribution system upgrades.  At the 19 Jul 2016 meeting we held with the CVRD CAO, CVRD Chairperson, CVRD Staff, etc., it became clear that since Saltair taxpayers voluntarily took on the responsibility to upgrade our system, the Saltair Water System distribution upgrades no longer meet the CVRD’s large grants criteria for CVRD large grant applications.

8) The CVRD was asked about a five-year (2018-2022) priority list for our water distribution upgrades. The list has not been created by the CVRD yet (as of May 4, 2017).

9) In Oct 2016, SWAC participated in a meeting with Innova consultants hired by the CVRD to review the CVRD’s water and wastewater systems management in the CVRD’s nine Electoral Areas.  There are 35 water and waste water systems and 19 of them are water systems. The Saltair water system is the largest water system in the CVRD’s nine Electoral Areas with approx. 850 property users.

10) The Innova report also addressed VIHA’s (Vancouver Island Health Authority) decree that all Vancouver Island water systems obtaining their water from an open water source – such as a lake – must install a filtration system.  No funding came from local, provincial or federal governments for these mandated filtration systems.  VIHA has given a two year deadline to install the Saltair water Filtration System.  The CVRD has been successful in getting a time extension for us, but we still need to comply.

In a 2016 CVRD study of filtration systems, Opus Engineering presented costs of different filtration systems and recommended one that would cost $4.6M for the Saltair Filtration system, not including the annual operational costs.  The Town of Ladysmith due to their high turbidity requires a two part system starting at $14M.  The Innova Report suggested that the CVRD look into Saltair joining the Town of Ladysmith filtration system, but the report did not give any facts, figures or what the costs would be for the Saltair taxpayers.

There are lots of question that we need answers to before we even consider the Innova group’s suggestion that we join the Town of Ladysmith water system:

a) What will be Saltair’s share in the 14 Million costs (i.e., water rates, rate increases & additional fees would be controlled by the Town of Ladysmith)?

b) We know that water pipes are expensive, especially large diameter ones. What would be the cost to run a large diameter pipe from the Town of Ladysmith water treatment facility to a Saltair water distribution location?

c) Saltair taxpayers own our whole water system. What would happen to our millions of dollars’ worth of pipes, treatment plant, storage tank (new 2014) and especially the very valuable water licenses we hold on Stocking Lake?

d) Would we become part of the Town of Ladysmith’s water system and then have to pay into the Town’s water improvements? Since the Town’s system needs millions of dollars in updates and is expanding by allowing more subdivisions, would we face increased premiums to help pay for these increases that we have no say in? The Town has millions of dollars in water infrastructure plans of $40 M in upgrades to their water system per their 2015 plans and those $$ would be passed on to us in increased rates and fees. The Diamond Water District (Area H north of Ladysmith) is experiencing this as they buy their water from Ladysmith and they have to negotiate their water rate every 5 years; pay the equivalent of the Ladysmith water property tax and an additional fee on top of their own connection fee to the Town of Ladysmith. The Stz’uminus First Nation also purchases water from the Town of Ladysmith.

e) There is no proof of any economic advantage by Saltair joining the Town of Ladysmith’s water system.

11) The CVRD is examining the possibility of using wells to supply our water. This would mean that filtration may not be needed for a groundwater source, assuming that the well water will be able to supply all of Saltair’s current and future needs and meets the VIHA’s standard. If the well water does not meet the VIHA standard, then it would need to be filtered so we would end up needing filtration treatment for the well/ground water. These standards may change in the future and filtration may be required of community well/ground water at that time.  The CVRD is currently examining the well/ground water situation, and we will find out details at the public meeting that the CVRD staff will be hosting in the fall of 2017.  Saltair needs a large turnout for this meeting – that is why we need you to take a very active part in getting your friends and neighbours to send their emails to us so we can send our notices to them also.

Summary: Saltair Water Advisory Committee advises that Saltair taxpayers should not make any decisions on the above until all the facts and costs – NOT estimates – are presented in a series of well-advertised CVRD public meetings.

Thank you for attending the Saltair Water Advisory Committee presentation and please pass the above information on to others as WATER is the #1 Priority in Saltair.

Saltair Water Advisory Committee – saltairwater@gmail.com

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