The City of White Rock is holding a public information meeting this month regarding the future of the city’s water utility.
The meeting, set to take place June 16 at 5:30 p.m. at the White Rock Community Centre (15154 Russell Ave.), is to allow residents to “learn more about the options currently available to the city in acquiring the public utility,” a city news release issued Tuesday said.
The city first announced its intentions to take over from the current owner of White Rock’s water utility, Edmonton-based Epcor, in March 2013, and began officially negotiating the purchase in June of that year.
The decision came soon after Epcor announced a multi-million-dollar plan (Total Water Quality Management Project) to increase chlorination of the city’s water supply, upgrade infrastructure and boost capacity. The chlorination was ordered by Fraser Health in response to E. coli contamination – traced to aging roof seals at the Merklin reservoir – that sparked a boil-water advisory in August 2010.
White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin has described taking over the water utility as a “bold” move that would require the city to take on “big debt.” At the same time, he said, “we believe it’s in the best interest of taxpayers.”
While little information has been released in the past two years regarding options, Baldwin has said that if Epcor isn’t willing to sell, the city could explore expropriation. He has also said that should the city take over, it’s possible that Epcor could be contracted to continue operations.
Another option that was talked about is that of tying into Metro Vancouver’s water system – a move Fraser Health officials said they supported, specifically citing an interest in seeing a reduction of arsenic in White Rock’s water supply.