White Rock city staff are investigating the possibility of linking to Metro Vancouver’s water system.
The research – including associated costs of such a move and what it would involve – was suggested by Coun. Helen Fathers following a presentation Monday by officials with Epcor, the city’s water supplier.
It would be an advantage for the city to know, Fathers explained, describing a city decision to not buy the utility when it had the chance as “a mistake.”
But the suggestion did not receive unanimous support.
“I think the fact of the matter is there is no alternative,” said Mayor Wayne Baldwin. “Unless we buy Epcor…”
Coun. Larry Robinson also voted against the move, suggesting it will give the impression that such a switch wouldn’t be complicated.
“I don’t think we should lead the citizens to believe we can just turn off one tap and turn on another,” he said.
Betty Icharia, manager of the White Rock Epcor office, Lee Jenkins (senior manager of B.C. operations) and Clayton Crawford (senior manager of municipal projects) were at city hall to speak on the utility’s Total Water Quality Management project.
It is a plan to carry out $11-12 million in system upgrades over the next five years, and includes increasing chlorination.
The application is to meet a Fraser Health Authority deadline of full chlorination by March 31, 2016.
The supply has been partially chlorinated since contamination triggered a boil-water advisory in 2010.
If approved, the work would boost the average residential customer’s bill by four per cent per year, from 2014 through 2017.
According to figures shared Monday, a customer currently paying $20.55 per month will see their bill climb to $37.03 in the fifth year with the rate boost (compared to $24.04 without).
Council members asked what prompted the chlorination; if the aquifer would be chlorinated; if Epcor was contributing any of the funding for the upgrades; how White Rock compares to other municipalities with regard to water use; and if residents would be able to taste the chlorine.
“Are we going to taste chlorine in our water now, after all these years?” Coun. Al Campbell asked.
Jenkins noted that while some people are more sensitive, the level proposed – 0.2 milligrams per litre at the tap – is generally “not offensive.”
Jenkins confirmed the full cost of the upgrades will “absolutely” be recovered.
Regarding the other questions, the Epcor officials confirmed the aquifer will not be chlorinated; that White Rock residents are “in the ballpark” of other cities when it comes to water use; and that the move to chlorinate is to meet Fraser Health operating-permit conditions.
Epcor open house
Epcor customers were notified of the application last month.
An open house outlining the project is set for today (Thursday), from 1:30-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. at White Rock Community Centre, 15154 Russell Ave.