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Water woes addressed by water commission

Water, along with food and shelter, are necessities of life and Juan de Fuca Electoral Area Director Mike Hicks wants to ensure families in the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area have enough water. For months, the prospect of increasing potable water costs had been plaguing Hicks and those who depend on potable water delivery. Residents went from paying $140 to $180 for water delivery because their distributor, South Island Water, was faced with increased costs because of time and distance.

On Tuesday, April 1, the Juan de Fuca Water Distribution Commission (JDFWDC) voted, four to two, to pass a motion made by Hicks, which would see the electoral area (and municipalities) allowed to build stand-pipes for dedicated potable water.

The JDFWDC considered a staff report which stated water hydrants were not to be used as a source for potable water for potable water delivery trucks. The concern was potential damage to the hydrants as well as extra costs related to billing and administration.

Hicks said he would use the gas tax monies to build a stand pipe for use by potable water delivery trucks as close to Otter Point residents as possible.

“We’ll take on the expense from the gas tax,” said Hicks at the meeting. “If it doesn’t work it’s not the end of the world, but it is the end of the world for 400 families. This is futuristic thinking.” The cost, said Hicks, would be $20-$30,000 at most.

“In my area I can’t use the gas tax for anything else,” said Hicks.

Currently 400 families from the Highlands to Shirley depend on potable water delivery. Hicks said he believes South Island’s role of delivering water is just as important within the CRD as the system of piped water lines.

The motion put forward by Hicks, which passed, reads: “I move that the Juan de Fuca Water Distribution Commission direct staff to complete the third and final bulk water dispensing station in East Sooke, approve the $50,000 funding requested in the 2014 capital plan and to amend CRD Bylaw No, 3889 to allow dedicated potable water hydrants or stand-pipes to be built by member municipalities or Electoral areas and administered by the Juan de Fuca Distribution Commission for the exclusive use of fire departments and certified VIHA approved potable water haulers.”

Hicks’ motion was backed by Sooke Councillor Herb Haldane, who said, “These people are still getting two, three, four per cent tax increases, now it’s hydro, water and gas going up.  I’m with Mike on this… if we can somehow make things more affordable.”

Voting in favour as well were Councillors Gordie Logan (Colwood), and Ken Williams (Highlands). Opposed were Councillors John Rogers (View Royal), Lillian Szpak (Langford).

At the end of the meeting Teresa Hall from South Island Water said they would lower the rates once the stand-pipe (hydrant) was in place.

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