Municipalities agree on water sharing deal

NANAIMO – Lantzville to pay all connection and distribution costs, money will be used to help pay for current projects.

Nanaimo and the District of Lantzville have completed an agreement that could see the city extend its water supply system to include its northern neighbour.

The agreement is the result of a 2005 memorandum of understanding signed between the two municipalities after Lantzville made a formal request to Nanaimo to extend its water supply to the district.

Since then, conditions of the agreement have been worked on but not finalized, though last year negotiations stalled altogether for several months because acceptable terms could not be agreed on, mostly over Nanaimo’s concerns about long-term water supply capacity.

Over the past few months, however, both parties managed to reach an agreement that includes: a 20-year renewable term; Lantzville will pay full costs of connecting to Nanaimo’s water system, plus all related distribution and water-usage costs; Lantzville will pay a connection charge of $5,912.26 for each residential, commercial or industrial premises; and Lantzville will have water conservation measures in place consistent with those of Nanaimo.

“The current proposal isn’t to supply the entire area of Lantzville, it’s to supply the area known as Upper Lantzville,” said Al Kenning, city manager for Nanaimo. “The actual demands on the city’s systems will be relatively limited in the short term at least. As well, I think it’s quite important that Lantzville has agreed to support Nanaimo’s applications to senior governments for additional water supply, which is important because when communities work together it makes for a stronger application.”

The agreement still requires approval by Nanaimo city council, which deferred voting on it Monday because Coun. Fred Pattje was not in attendance.

“This is an important issue and I think we want to have all councillors present when we vote,” said Coun. Diana Johnstone. Mayor John Ruttan, a resident of Lantzville, is expected to excuse himself from the debate and vote to avoid a conflict of interest.

The vote is expected to take place at the next scheduled council meeting.

Kenning added that, if council passes the agreement, an initial connection fee of about $1.3 million that Lantzville will pay to Nanaimo will go directly toward current water projects, such as the new water treatment facility, as will user rates, which will be the same as Nanaimo residents, and future connection fees.

Lantzville currently has a community water supply system made of up district-owned wells that services 225 properties in the community. The rest of the community, about 210 properties, relies on private wells.

The district’s wells are already running at capacity, said Twyla Graff, Lantzville’s chief administrative officer, and can’t service as many residents as it would like. Running at capacity also limits new development. Under the agreement, connections to new development will be limited to 50 per year.

“We are running at capacity, especially during the summer months, and have not authorized any new connections to our own community water system for a number of years,” said Graff.

The estimated annual consumption Lantzville is expected to put on the supply is equivalent to a little more than a day’s worth being consumed by Nanaimo residents. Other terms of the agreement ensure water will not be used for major agriculture production or golf courses; Lantzville cannot sell or permit the sale of bulk water or bottled water outside the municipality; and Lantzville will keep its existing wells operating at current levels.