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Lantzville looks to join regional water protection program

The last holdout in the Regional District of Nanaimo’s watershed protection program wants on board.

Lantzville has asked the RDN to let the community participate in the collaborative program examining the issues of water from a regional perspective. It has numerous goals, such as learning more about the region’s water sources, conservation, lessening the impacts of population growth and more.

The Drinking Water and Watershed Protection program, developed in 2009, made the RDN the first government in B.C. to establish a taxpayer-funded drinking water protection service. It originally encompassed the electoral areas, but the surrounding municipalities of Nanaimo, Parksville and Qualicum Beach became part of the service last year.

John Finnie, general manager of environment services for the RDN, said Lantzville joining is beneficial.

“Water doesn’t take the political boundary,” said Finnie.

More partners means a reduction of costs associated with the program, because it is shared among more areas.

Coun. Brian Dempsey, Lantzville’s RDN representative, said the reduction in cost was one reason council decided to join. Previously fees were around $25 per parcel for Lantzville to participate, but it will be around $3 per parcel for 2012.

Working together will ensure partners can determine the safe amount of water to remove from the watershed and areas of concern, adding that Lantzville has always monitored the district wells and has one of the lowest water usage rates in the RDN.

Lantzville Mayor Jack de Jong said joining the program will be positive for the community, because it has some of the most serious water issues. Lantzville council has pursued water deals with surrounding municipalities for a number of years, because the lack of access to water is holding up development.

In February, Nanaimo announced it won’t pursue a deal with Lantzville to provide a water connection between the communities. Lantzville council is still exploring other options.

The watershed program covers seven major watershed areas including Nanaimo River, Englishman River and Little Qualicum. It has several initiatives that work at protecting water resources such as Team WaterSmart, watershed monitoring programs, school education programs and private well monitoring programs.

For more information about the program, please go to www.rdn.bc.ca.

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