LETTER: Balfour water: winning the lottery, refusing the prize

Reader Hayward Kirsh is concerned about the recent decision to scrap a funding plan for Balfour's water system.

The following is in response to comments, concerns, and misinformation that have been circulating in the community and local media regarding the proposed upgrades and grant for the Balfour Water system.

Firstly, full disclosure: I am on the Balfour Water Community Advisory Committee, as are several other residents in the community.

However, I am writing this to voice only my opinion as a resident of Balfour and none of the following represents the views of the Balfour CAC or the RDCK.

“Do we have to have these upgrades at a larger cost to us all if we do not get the grant?”

Yes, eventually all the work that would have been included in the loan/grant will be done. But instead of paying the loan of approximately $600,000, Balfour water users will be paying $3,400,000.

All other utilities, such as natural gas, electricity, etc. are charged to the consumer via by a metering system. It is the most equitable way to do it.

While we live beside a lake, which is the source of our water supply, it is necessary to pay for the delivery system, pumps, pipes, etc., and the treatment of that water. For any on the water system who want free water, I would suggest several five gallon pails and go for it.

“Residents have been saying that we will have to pay the full grant back so were going against it. Several told us they just went against it because there were against meters.”

In this case, the Federal/Provincial grant (non-repayable) would have amounted to 83 cents on the dollar, with Balfour providing 17 cents on the dollar.

The total project cost came in at $3,400,000. Approximately $2,800,000 as non-repayable grant, and approximately $600,000 as repayable loan.

For those who do not want meters, was it really worth giving up all the benefits of the grant? A reservoir replacement, standby power, better fire-fighting capability, aging pump replacement, and yes, metering so people who use more water pay more, and those that use less, pay less.

As far as I am concerned, this grant was kind of like winning the lottery, and now we do not want to claim the prize. Besides looking at even greater water rate increases over time to do the work, house insurance costs could rise until there are sufficient hydrants in place.

I hope this brings some clarity to these issues.

Hayward Kirsh


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