Semiahmoo must spend millions to connect with Surrey water system

Semiahmoo First Nation has appealed to Surrey for water, after White Rock told the band it would cut off its water supply within 18 months.

  • Oct. 11, 2016 12:00 p.m.

Surrey says the Semiahmoo reserve would have to install larger pipes if it wants to connect to Surrey's water supply.

Kelly Sinoski, Vancouver Sun

The Semiahmoo First Nation will have to spend millions of dollars on infrastructure upgrades if it is to connect to the City of Surrey’s water system.

The First Nation has appealed to Surrey for water, after White Rock told the band it would cut off its water supply within 18 months. White Rock recently bought a private water utility from Edmonton-based Epcor, which had previously supplied the Semiahmoo with water for decades, and now argues the reserve falls entirely within Surrey’s municipal boundaries.

Jeff Arason, Surrey’s utility manager, said the city already supplies water to the duty free shop on the Semiahmoo Reserve, but Semiahmoo would have to come up with millions of dollars in infrastructure improvements before other connections could be made. A study by the First Nation suggests it would need to spend around $3 million for sewer and $3 million for water pipes, he said. The study noted the reserve only has one pipe that is about six inches at one end but narrows to three-quarters of an inch at the other.

Surrey is expected to release a report on Oct. 17, outlining the “opportunities and challenges” it would face if it were to provide water to the Semiahmoo First Nation. Arason said all water pipes for residential water connections must be at least eight inches in size.

Surrey is part of Metro Vancouver’s water district, which serves every municipality in the region except White Rock. The latter provides water to its 20,000 residents using wells and the Sunnyside Uplands Aquifer.

The Semiahmoo First Nation did not return calls Friday, but has previously said White Rock’s announcement caught them off guard. The reserve has had a boil-water advisory in place for years.

White Rock countered at the time that while there is no formal agreement to provide water services to the Semiahmoo, the city had continued supplying bulk water to the reserve and is committed to securing an agreement, but attempts by city staff to finalize an agreement have been stymied by the First Nation.

ksinoski@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/ksinoski

Click here to read more stories from Vancouver Sun.

 

Just Posted

Ambulance response time concerns White Rock resident

Ambulance arrives 22 minutes after call for service

World Water Day celebrated in South Surrey

City of White Rock manager of utilities Saad Jasim to give a presentation on water Monday

Delta asking for joint provincial-federal review of ‘cashless casinos’

Call for system to prevent money laundering comes as construction is set to begin on Ladner casino

Delta needs education about racism, says new committee

Deltassist’s new Organizing Against Racism and Hate committee held a pair of forums last week

Hands Against Racism takes over Surrey City Hall

Event included music, dance; two people received awards

STRONG, PERSEVERING AND PROUD: Surrey Pride celebrates 20 years with biggest party yet

PART ONE: A special series on the past, present and future of our LGBTQ+ community

Bobrovsky perfect as Blue Jackets blank Canucks 5-0

Vancouver shut out for 10th time this season

Fundraising campaign launched for man caught in SilverStar avalanche

In only two days, the GoFundMe surpassed its $15,000 goal

Terror at sea: Helicopter rescues frightened cruise passengers in Norway

The Viking Sky cruise ship was carrying 1,300 passengers and crew when it experienced engine trouble

Search and rescue team helicopters injured climber from B.C. provincial park

A 30-year-old woman suffered a suspected lower-limb fracture in Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park

DOJ: Trump campaign did not co-ordinate with Russia in 2016

Attorney General William Barr said special counsel “does not exonerate” Trump of obstructing justice

Trudeau in Vancouver to support Tamara Taggart at Liberal nomination event

The former broadcaster is seeking the nomination for the Vancouver Kingsway riding

Trudeau calls May 6 byelection for B.C. riding of Nanaimo-Ladysmith

The riding opened up when Sheila Malcolmson resigned in January

B.C. VIEWS: The hijacking of our education system gathers speed

Children taught to strike and shout fringe far-left demands

Most Read