The Kalamalka Lake water source was turned off due increased algae in Kalamalka Lake Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. (Stock photo)

The Kalamalka Lake water source was turned off due increased algae in Kalamalka Lake Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. (Stock photo)

Vernon water source shut off due to algae increase

Regional district says the switch from Kal Lake to Duteau Creek water is out of abundance of caution

Greater Vernon Water customers have been switched to a different water source due to an algae increase in Kalamalka Lake.

The switch from the Kalamalka Lake water source to the Duteau Creek source began Oct. 24. The Kal Lake source was turned off the following day.

“The decision to remove the Kalamalka Lake water source is based on unusually high numbers of algae within Kalamalka Lake,” said Tricia Brett, water quality manager for the Regional District of North Okanagan (RDNO).

The RDNO says the algae levels aren’t high enough to pose a health risk, and the switch between water sources is out of an abundance of caution.

“While the cause of the increase in algae is unknown, it is believed that previous flooding and unusual weather patterns this year likely played a role,” Brett said.

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“These algae blooms are part of the reason GVW is actively seeking filtration on the Kalamalka Lake source,” she added, also mentioning that different forms of filtration are being tested for the Mission Hill Water Treatment Plant Pilot Study.

On Wednesday RDNO Communications Officer Ashley Gregerson said most Kalamalka Lake customers would likely be receiving Duteau Creek water by now, following some delay while the water that was already in the system is flushed through.

Boiling water is not effective when algae is present, and while the algae does not pose a health risk, Brett said customers may choose to use in-house filtration system (such as Brita filters) while the switch is taking place, and should start to notice improved water quality soon afterwards.

Customers who are not normally on the Duteau Creek source will notice much softer water with a low alkalinity and pH. The RDNO noted this may be of interest to customers who have in-home water treatment systems or aquariums.

Staff will continue to monitor water quality and notify customers of any other changes and when the Kalamalka Lake source is turned back on.

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Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
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