Community water systems hoping to turn things over to the Regional District of Central Kootenay will have to wait a little longer.
The board has extended a moratorium on accepting new systems until the end of March pending a consultant’s report.
Four applicants — Sunshine Estates, Orde Creek, Schroeder Creek, and Fauquier — were told in July they would have to wait until the completion of a corporate review for an answer.
Then a moratorium was imposed in October to give staff more time to discuss the review, talk to BC Hydro, and complete a workshop with a consultant, whose report on delivery options is expected early in the new year.
But a staff report this week said they still don’t feel they can make a solid recommendation to the board around acquiring further systems.
“We have to decide if we’re going to be in the water business or if someone else should be,” chair John Kettle said. “Regional districts were not set up to do this.”
The RDCK already operates 19 community water systems, several of which have undergone upgrades in recent years to meet Interior Health standards.
Faced with stiff treatment requirements with costly price tags, many small improvement districts have asked the regional district to take over, since they are not eligible for provincial grants, Kettle said.
However, they’ve butted up against an RDCK moratorium dating back at least a decade. It was briefly lifted, allowing several more systems to come into the regional district fold following a series of referendums in 2010.
Although he isn’t sure what the consultant will recommend, Kettle says other models may work better, such as creating a water authority.
“We need to find out if we can continue to have these water systems or need to look at a whole different governance model,” he said. “That’s what we’re going to do in January.”