If successful in a grant application, the City of Williams Lake could soon start the planning and design of a water treatment plant.

Council agreed to authorize the submission of a grant application to the BC Rural Dividend Fund at Tuesday’s regular council meeting.

“This is the beginning of a long process that we’re going to have to go through because of what the federal government just did in changing the water regulations in the reduction of manganese in our water system, so this is just the first step to get some information, get some study to find out exactly how many millions this is actually going to cost us as a community,” Mayor Walt Cobb said.

“One of the first things that we talked about before was water metering and there was much opposition and that it was just a money grab and what not. Well the federal government has told us that if we don’t do water metering first and indicate that we are actually conserving water they will not help fund this next phase which is a horrendously costly plant, so this will give us some information on both the water metering and the cost of what this plant might look like.”

 In order to maximize the Provincial contribution to $500,000, the City will need to contribute approximately $375,000.  Ten percent of the contribution can be in-kind with the source of the required funds being the Water Reserve account according to Corporate Engagement Officer Guillermo Angel and Manager of Public Works, Pat Mahood.

 The Williams Lake Indian Band (WLIB) has agreed to and provided a letter of partnership for the Rural Dividend application.

A water quality advisory due to the levels of manganese was issued by the City last month due to Health Canada having established a new maximum acceptable concentration for manganese in drinking water.

 “Having treated water may increase water rates, with possible increase to maintenance and operational costs. However, it will also ensure that barriers are removed from economic growth via water quality advisories against the City which would affect multiple sectors, including tourism,” Angel and Mahood said in a joint report.

 “Furthermore, expansion of the hospital could be reliant on ensuring an adequate water source is readily available for health needs.”