Dry Gulch may not be so dry in the future.
During the August 4 Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) board meeting, a proposition was presented that may finally seek to solve the area’s community water needs.
A joint project between the Kinbasket Water and Sewer Company (KWSC) and the RDEK, as well as a yet unknown and yet un-hired private entity for construction and operation, was presented to secure a long-term community water solution for the Dry Gulch area.
The project would supply commuity-wide, Interior Health-compliant treated water to all properties within the proposed service area.
This proposed project is being supported by the federal government’s Public-Private Partnership Canada (PPP Canada).
New infrastructure would be built to provide the Dry Gulch area with water, and the treatment centre would also be outfitted with a sanitary sewer service hooked up between the KWSC and Radium Resort.
Dry Gulch would not be included in the sanitary sewer service, however, but the resort would.
A single, private company would be hired to design, build, operate and maintain the Dry Gulch water system for thirty years afterwards.
Prior to the building of the system, the KWSC would supply water to Dry Gulch through Radium Resort, with the resort water system becoming a secondary “back-up” system after the long-term source is completed.
The origins of the proposed project began years ago, when the Dry Gulch community first approached the RDEK regarding a community water system.
A meeting was held in 2007 by the RDEK to look into a building a whole new water system, but it was decided that other options should be looked into and considered that were more affordable.
“Originally to create a new water system on its own was too expensive,” said Electoral Area G Director Gerry Wilkie.
“There are not many land owners in Dry Gulch. At the time, the critical mass was nowhere near enough to pay, even with a grant.”
A grant from the BC Community Water Improvement Program had been secured in 2005 by the RDEK for the Dry Gulch water system.
However, with the project lying dormant for some time, the grant had to be renewed over the next several years while waiting for progress.
“When I became director, I looked into it,” said Wilkie. “I knew Radium Resort was expanding, so I approached them to see if we could possibly partner with them to build a proper treatment site to supply to both communities (Dry Gulch and the resort) by gravity, as the treatment reservoir would be built on top and would run down. They were interested, so we discussed.”
Following this, the KWSC became interested and involved with the discussions, as well as PPP Canada.
At this time, the RDEK has reached out to the community through public meetings, information packages and petitions to ask for their feelings on the recent project proposition.
“The RDEK is currently in a petition process, with the results deadline on August 22,” said Elizabeth Ahlgren, RDEK project supervisor.
“Once we have direction from the community, we will take that to the board and the board will approve. We anticipate that if the community says no, then the board will not approve. The Kinbasket group is working on a business plan for PPP Canada for December, and that would be the next step if the board approves. We will also be contacting Radium Resort to hold a more detailed discussion.”
“We’re supporters of the initial proposition on the table by the Kinbasket Water and Sewer Company,” said Barry Potter, vice-president of development at Radium Resort.
“While it is Dry Gulch that needs the water, as we have our own water, we see the benefit of a regional sewer solution going forward. We’ve done substantial work with the RDEK and PPP Canada over the last six months. It’s a very large endeavor and we support it.”
“It’s a fairly major project. I’m sort of hoping people will vote to go ahead so they have an assured water supply for the future,” said Wilkie. “That will be demonstrated with the petition, we will go to work if they want it, it is up to them to decide.”