White Rock's water is one step closer to chlorination following a presentation to council by water utility EPCOR regarding a new initiative that could see an increase of 90 per cent to residents' water bills over the course of 2014 to 2017.
Called the Total Water Quality Management Project, EPCOR's proposal would see a water treatment and chemical plant constructed in order for White Rock to make the switch to chlorinated water, to the tune of around $12 million.
The forthcoming chlorination is a result of a contaminated water scare during the summer of 2010 when White Rock was on a boil-water alert following E. coli bacteria being discovered in its water supply. The contamination was blamed on pigeon droppings making its way into the water.
However, before EPCOR proceeds with the project, White Rock council is looking at other options.
Coun. Helen Fathers wondered if it would be more cost-effective to simply hook in to the Greater Vancouver Regional District's water supply.
"What I hear on the street is if we do have to move to chlorination, why not just hook up to the GVRD water utility system, which obviously serves a lot of municipalities other than White Rock," said Fathers. "So I asked for a motion to see if staff can see if that is possible, how much it would cost and what is involved."
Questions asked during the presentation included whether or not EPCOR would be funding any of the project, to which they said they would not be.
"They said it was all going to be recouped by charge increases in White Rock," said Fathers. "So from 2014 to 2017, our bills are going to almost double...because it's all going to be charged back to the customer."
While those rates will likely go up, Coun. Grant Meyer is quick to note that even if they do, they will still be around the same as what others in the GVRD are paying.
"The rates are going to increase over the next few years but they will still be in the middle of the pack in terms of what metro Vancouver residents pay," said Meyer.
"That said, we have asked staff to report back to us about possibly hooking up with the GVRD's water supply to see if we can save there. We're just doing due diligence and making sure we're getting the best deal."
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