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June 11, 2013

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White Rock enters negotiations to acquire water utility

WHITE ROCK – Edmonton’s EPCOR corporation will soon no longer own White Rock’s drinking water systems following a decision by city council to enter negotiations to acquire the utility.

“This decision is based solely on what is in the best financial interest of taxpayers,” said Mayor Wayne Baldwin who announced, at the Monday June 10th regular council meeting, the unanimous decision made during an in-camera session. 

The decision comes subsequent to council instructing staff to prepare a business case for acquiring the utility earlier this year when EPCOR applied to the Comptroller of Water Rights with a proposal for a $22 Million upgrade. After a 2010 boil water advisory and concerns expressed by the Fraser Health Authority, the upgrade was deemed necessary to ensure protection from e-coli through chlorination, and treat for unacceptable levels of arsenic and manganese.

“I’m very proud of the White Rock City Council,” said Margaret Woods of the White Rock Accountable Water Committee. “They made a common sense decision to ensure the money the residents pay for their water stays in our community, for the benefit of our community.”

The White Rock Accountable Water Committee has been campaigning to urge council to consider citizen ownership of the city’s drinking water systems. With activities including staffing an information table at the White Rock Farmers Market as well as hosting a public forum on the issue, the level of community awareness of the opportunity for publicly accountable drinking water in White Rock rose quickly.

“We will continue to stay connected with the hundreds of residents who took part in this campaign,” said Woods. “Now that White Rock has decided to enter into negotiations, citizens need to remain engaged in that process and ensure the management of our water is indeed accountable to the public.”

White Rock residents interested in learning more about plans for the community’s drinking water are invited to another public event taking place 7PM Tuesday June 18th at the White Rock First United Church, 15385 Semiahmoo Avenue. Discussion will follow a free screening of the film Water Makes Money: How Private Corporations Make Money with Water.

The White Rock Accountable Water Committee is supported by White Rock City Workers CUPE Local 402-01, CUPE BC Water Watch, and the Council of Canadians, Surrey/Langley/White Rock Chapter.

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