More than 400 people turned out to tour the Duteau Creek treatment plant Saturday.

More than 400 people turned out to tour the Duteau Creek treatment plant Saturday.

Wave of interest floods plant

There was considerable interest in a multi-million-dollar enhancement to Greater Vernon’s drinking water.

More than 400 people toured the $29 million Duteau Creek treatment plant Saturday.

“The event provided an opportunity for customers to learn about their water sources and how their drinking water is treated,” said Al Cotsworth, utilities manager for the North Okanagan Regional District.

Visitors started their tour at the front entrance, and with the assistance of diagrams and maps, they  learned about where their water comes from and what forms of treatment and disinfection are required.

Walking around the plant, residents were provided with information about the new system.

“The main plant building houses offices, a laboratory, centrifuge room, main plant room with six concrete water treatment basins and other equipment rooms,” said Cotsworth.

“A secondary building contains the chlorination equipment and a reservoir for water awaiting distribution.”

The chlorine is generated on-site using sodium chloride (table salt) and energy to form a solution of hypochlorite (diluted bleach).

This solution is used to disinfect the water and prevent microbial re-growth in the pipes on the way to customer taps.

“The plant uses dissolved air flotation (DAF) to remove dissolved organic particles, colour and turbidity from the raw water supply,” said Cotsworth.

“The organic particles and turbidity come from natural processes in the watershed that were responsible for the previous yellow colour of water and boil water notices that customers on the Duteau Creek system experienced.”

The DAF system also removes most of the large and medium organic particles and reduces colour and turbidity, vastly improving the visual quality of the water.

“The DAF system, however, still needs a filter component to remove the smallest organic particles and to be in compliance with Interior Health standards for removal of giardia and cryptosporidium,” said Cotsworth.

“A pilot project is currently underway to determine the best filter system to install which construction is slated for 2015.”