The Village of Nakusp is putting a moratorium on all new connections to the municipal water system for properties outside of town boundaries.
The village’s chief administrative officer says they’re putting new applications for connections on hold until a study is done on the capacity of the town’s water system.
“Until council finds out actual, factual information about where we are in our system, they are putting a hold on any new connections in the RDCK,” says CAO Cheryl Martens.
The village has several current applications for water connections from residents in the RDCK. Martens says those will be honoured, but no new ones will be approved until a consultant studies the town’s water capacity.
“We believe we are at maximum capacity,” says Martens. “Our guys are telling us we are, but that’s just preliminary. We think we are using more than a place this size would use, and we want to find all that out.”
Martens says it’s important to know where the village stands.
“Council wants to see where we are. They are really trying to be progressive, and have development in the community,” she says. “In order to get that development, though, you have to have the water, the infrastructure to accommodate it.”
The study is currently underway by Nelson consultants 9dot Engineering, and is expected to be ready in about three months.
Council made the decision at a special meeting in late July.
Application snafu puts couple in limbo
The decision comes as bad news to a couple on Highway 6 who applied for two water connections from the municipal water system to their rural property.
David and Rita Beerstra say they need two water connections to their land, located just outside the village’s boundary, in order to subdivide the property.
In May, the Beerstras asked the village to put a new water connection on their property on Highway 6, just outside the village limits, in Area K. They paid for the application when they submitted it.
According to village bylaws, such requests have to go through the village’s director of operations for approval.
However, the village cut that position in a shuffle a few months back, and the application was processed without any approval.
“David and Rita’s application was forwarded to public works, who then completed an installation,” says a report to council from Martens. “The application did not receive approval. This break in communication has been corrected.”
The Beerstras then asked the village to activate a second connection on their property — one that had been installed at some point in the past, when the water line belonged to the RDCK (it was transferred to the village several years ago).
“It is administration’s position that a new connection has been installed that was not approved and the former connection was never used for the purpose of a building,” says the report. “Once it was dug up by the Beerstras, it was discovered that the connection had a buried ten-foot connector hose and tap attached to it.”
That prompted the village to decline activating the second connection until council could review matters.
“The village is not responsible to provide additional water connections to Electoral Area K, especially to facilitate new subdivisions,” says the council report.
The Beerstras have their lawyer communicating with the village, arguing that the village is obligated to provide the second service, and that the former director of operations approved the connection.
“It’s been a nightmare,” says Dave Beerstra, who bought the 11-acre property in 2016 and plans the subdivision to build a home for his son. “But I don’t want to say any more now while it’s in the hands of our lawyers.”
Martens says the Beerstras will have to wait until the study is complete before council will consider their request.
In the meantime, Martens says the bylaw has to be updated to reflect the new administrative structure — and asked council for the authority to regulate the situation in the meantime.
“Due to the village’s limited supply of water and, in addition, the need to secure sufficient water for firefighting reserves, administration is requesting that the CAO be authorized to review, approve, or deny all applications for new water connections until the Water Regulations Bylaw is amended,” says the council report. “And, further, that council deny the request received from David and Rita Beerstra for a second water connection.”
Council passed a motion giving Martens the power to approve or deny water applications, until the bylaw is updated. But it tabled a motion to deny the Beerstra’s application until the capacity study has been completed.