The District of Lake Country is hoping to make a current switch-over between water sources crystal clear.
The pump house connected to the Okanagan Lake water source is being replaced over the winter months, when flow levels are low during the irrigation off-season.
As a result, customers that normally draw from the Okanagan Lake source have been switched to receiving water from Beaver Lake as of mid-October.
Roughly one third of the district’s residents receive Beaver Lake water year-round. The water source has been under a water advisory for some time, meaning residents with concerns about their immune system are recommended to speak with their doctor or Interior Health before drinking the water.
The switch-over has been a subject of confusion among residents, according to Lake Country utilities manager Kiel Wilke, who says many have mistaken the Beaver Lake water advisory for a boil water notice.
“That’s probably been the biggest confusion,” said Wilke, adding the vast majority of people on a water quality advisory are able to safely drink the water as is.
Wilke explained the chlorine disinfection system at the Okanagan Lake pump house had reached the end of its useful life and needed to be replaced. He said the contractors doing the work are on track to complete the replacement by the end of March 2021.
In addition, the district is building an ultraviolet treatment facility for Okanagan Lake, which requires shutting down the system and cutting into the transmission main above the reservoir.
A feasibility study for a Beaver Lake water treatment plant is in the works, budgeted at $75,000.
The district is also looking into upgrades to its system control and data acquisition (SCADA) equipment, which runs and monitors the water system automatically. Wilke presented a recommendation for $100,000 worth of SCADA upgrades for Lake Country’s 2021 capital budget.
“Our water and wastewater system is all done with radios and computer stations, and the radios that are getting old and obsolete need to be replaced,” Wilke said. “It’s a pretty expensive venture actually but it’s essential to the way wastewater and water systems run now.”
Meanwhile, the province has undertaken a study of the Eastside utility to see how it can be brought up to District of Lake Country standards. According to a November water operations update, early indications are that the endeavour will cost upwards of $14 million.
Typically, users of a water utility foot the bill for any upgrades made, Wilke said.
“Some of the key things we want done is a feasibility study looking at what needs to be done to bring the system up to district standard, and coupled with that is a financial assessment; how much will it cost, how will it be paid for.”
The Eastside study is in its draft stages, but Wilke suggested a local service area would likely be created, and taxpayers within the service area would pay for the upgrades.
Other utility-related recommendations for next year’s budget in the recently updated water master plan include:
- Okanagan Centre Road West Infrastructure Realignment Plan — $30,000
- Facility Door Security Improvements — $25,000
- Water Master Plan Update – Public Engagement — $35,000
- Swalwell Lake Tower Upgrades – Design — $220,000