It was a first for the Regional District of North Okanagan’s water quality team.
After receiving a phone call Friday morning from the City of Vernon’s operations department that turbidity levels at the Kal Lake station had gone over five NTUs (units for measuring turbidity), which would normally lead to a boil water notice, RDNO water quality decided to turn off the Mission Hill water treatment plant and push Duteau Creek treatment plant water to all Greater Vernon water customers.
“This was the first time we’ve ever done this and it worked awesome,” said Renee Clark, water quality manager for RDNO. “It was a really good experience.”
Water officials talked with representatives from Interior Health about the situation, after discussing things with Vernon operations, and a decision was made to put Vernon Jubilee Hospital, Noric House and Mission Hill Elementary school onto a 24-hour precautionary boil water notice. All three groups are on the Mission Hill treatment plant.
“It was a bit of a disturbance for them but we walked through it fairly well,” said Clark, advising directors of the situation at their regular meeting Wednesday afternoon.
As of Wednesday, the Duteau Creek water system was being used for the entire area with officials monitoring the turbidity at the Kal Lake pump station to see when it should be brought back on.
Clark said as of Wednesday the turbidity NTUs were still up around 2.3.
At the region’s headgate Friday, the turbidity measured around 14 NTUs.
“Without the treatment plant in place, we wouldn’t have been able to produce the water,” said Clark. “The Duteau Creek measurement was 1.25 NTUs but it’s now around .5, well below the 1 where we would look at a boil advisory.”
Clark said it’s the first time in a few years the turbidity in the water reached five NTUs.
“We do see peaks of around 3.5 and at that time we’d go to a water quality advisory,” she said. “That hasn’t been an issue for many years.”