Ministry findings draw criticism

Vernon can only discharge treated waste water to Okanagan Lake on an emergency basis.

The City of Vernon is accusing the Ministry of Environment of being heavy-handed.

The ministry has approved the city’s liquid waste management plan, but Vernon can only discharge treated waste water to Okanagan Lake on an emergency basis.

“Why are we put to a different standard than other jurisdictions?” said Coun. Juliette Cunningham.

The city’s treated waste water is discharged on to the land for irrigation, but a pipe into Okanagan Lake exists and it was used once when the reservoir was full.

The ministry states that any change to the conditions under which lake discharge may occur that results in an increased frequency from the current emergency-only basis will need additional public and First Nations consultation and will require an amendment to the liquid waste management plan.

Cunningham says the ministry is off base.

“The cities of Kelowna and West Kelowna do that all of the time (discharge into the lake). It’s not an equitable way the city is being treated,” she said, adding that the city’s land-based irrigation is good for the environment.

“We spend $1.4 million to treat (waste) water and use it as reclaimed water but we get no contribution from the government.”

The city will express its concerns to the Ministry of Environment in a letter.