Merritt will have safer drinking water by next year thanks to more than $2 million in federal funding  the municipality recently received.

The City of Merritt received a total of $2,280,000 from the federal gas tax fund today (Feb.12) for the installation of UV light reactors on existing water wells that supply the community with drinking water.

The ultraviolet light kills bacteria and viruses, adding another component to the city’s water treatment arsenal.

“It’s another barrier of protection, and it’s required by the Interior Health Authority,” said City of Merritt chief administrative officer Shawn Boven.

The next step for the project will be drawing up design plans, which are expected to go out to tender in the fall.

The government funds are expected to cover 100 per cent of the project’s costs.

This water treatment project is one of 57 projects that are being funded through the Strategic Priorities Fund under the Federal Gas Tax Fund for 2016.

“This project will ensure a higher level of security for our community water supply,” said Merritt Mayor Neil Menard in a press release. “We have worked with Interior Health Authority for quite some time on this and now that funding is in place.”

Preliminary design plans for a UV disinfection process were completed by the city in 2015, Boven said.

He said the project will be finished in 2017.

Annually, the federal government provides more than $253 million in indexed funding for municipal infrastructure projects across B.C. through the federal gas tax fund. The funding can be spent on any eligible project the community prioritizes, or pooled with other communities for regional projects, banked for later priorities or used to pay for financed projects.