District to consider special rate

The Point Roberts water district will look at creating an irrigation rate to soften the bite of water costs for the golf course.

Under the current rate structure, “We’d have to have 72 rounds of golf a day just to break even on the water,” said Wayne Knowles at the district’s July 11 meeting, speaking on behalf of new golf course owners Bald Eagle Valley Resort Holdings.

Unable to pay for the water needed, the previous owner, Kenji Nose, had no choice but to let the course dry up. While new owners will bring a new infusion of cash and have paid the $82,000 in arrears to the water district to get the taps turned on, the high cost of water is a long-term concern.

In summer months, the golf course is by far the largest water user on the Point, pumping up to 350,000 gallons a day at a cost of about $2,500 under current rates. “That’s a lot of greens fees,” agreed commissioner Arthur Reber.

Since the golf course was originally built, the water district has had regular rate surveys and increases to better match the cost of providing water in the long term. “It has gone up considerably,” acknowledged water district manager Dan Bourks.

While the district has a legal requirement to treat all its customers equally, Bourks said the golf course’s situation is unique. “They only buy excess water and that changes the dynamic,” he said. The golf course irrigation water comes directly off the Point’s water supply from Canada before the water is treated by the Point Roberts Water District; the supply is not guaranteed, but only available after domestic consumption needs are met.”

“The marina also uses a lot of water in the summer but their usage involves fire flow. The water is guaranteed,” Bourks said. “The golf course irrigation water, under contract, is interruptible.”

Under contract with the Greater Vancouver Water District, Point Roberts pays for 840,640 gallons of water per day, regardless of actual usage. Bourks said the peak summer usage is typically about 500,000 gallons. “We’ve used 700,000 before but it hasn’t happened in a while,” he said. If the golf course buys the excess water, Bourks pointed out, it allows the district to sell water it is required to pay for, which can be an advantage to district ratepayers as well as keep the grass green.

Bourks said he would consult with the district attorney and have a potential irrigation rate included with the coming rate survey.

The August water district meeting has been rescheduled from August 8 to August 15 at the Tyee Drive district offices.

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