Boil water notices cast aside

The Greater Vernon Advisory Committee is moving towards switching water sources if there are turbidity concerns

Greater Vernon residents will likely hear about fewer boil water advisories.

The Greater Vernon Advisory Committee is moving towards switching water sources if there are turbidity concerns instead of issuing boil water notices or water quality advisories.

“The fact that we have two systems that, outside of peak demand in the summer, gives us the ability to avoid boil water notices,” said director Bob Fleming.

“It gives us flexibility in the system and protects customers.”

The two sources that can be utilized depending on the water quality in the other are Kalamalka Lake and Duteau Creek.

Director Jim Garlick says conditions on Kalamalka Lake have changed in 50 years.

“It’s getting shallower and shallower. It’s not the lake it used to be,”  he said.

“There are benefits to having some variety.”

Staff insist that switching water sources is a more efficient process than issuing boil advisories.

“Public notifications are very labour intensive and actions required during an event include staff notifying 800-plus customers on the sensitive customer list, operations staff setting out sign boards in impacted areas and water quality staff conducting increased sampling,” said Renee Clark, water quality manager, in a report.

Staff must also develop media releases and respond to customers calls related to the event. Even with all of that work, not everyone knows about the advisories.

“Many customers have indicated to Greater Vernon Water that they do no listen to the radio, watch TV, have the Internet, read the paper, go outside or understand that a notice may apply to them,” said Clark.

“In addition, the Kalamalka supply is more vulnerable as it supports most care facilities, the hospital, many schools and a large, elderly population.”

Clark added that a boil advisory can also have economic implications for restaurants and hotels.

Support for switching water sources instead of issuing boil advisories comes from director Mike Macnabb.

“Staff are doing a great job and Interior Health Authority criteria are being met,” said Macnabb.

“What we have is a robust system to meet the health of the people on our system.”



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