Water plan lacks innovation

Resident raises concerns about the master water plan in Greater Vernon

I find the current master water plan presented to Vernon and district ratepayers to be very limited in scope and lacking innovative thought.

The Regional District of North Okanagan and Interior Health Authority are telling you to borrow $70 million because the need is exigent, but what’s really needed is time for a much more critical review of the actual situation.

I can’t understand why RDNO and their “experts” are so adamant about separation and large, single or dual treatment facilities as opposed to a more distributed approach. It appears that the existing treated water from the Duteau facility is actually pretty good most of the time.

By removing chlorination and other disinfection from there, the water would be cheaper and could still be used for both agricultural and domestic purposes without significant changes to existing infrastructure or operations. The Duteau plant is more than what’s needed but the point is, it’s already there, in operation, and paid for (sort of).

With minor system upgrades, a few simple, small-scale facilities could then be installed to finish the treated water already available. The water would then be potable for introduction to your various domestic distribution systems.

Primarily, these would be disinfection stations to provide a barrier and a residual to inactivate pathogens. Trihalomethane problems, if you really have any now, should actually go away due to reduced dosage and contact time. Industrial and agricultural users could easily filter and disinfect on-site if required; a lot already do.

That still leaves the turbidity event problem. It seems to me that turbidity guidelines from the existing Duteau plant are exceeded for only a couple of short periods during each year, and these events generally fall outside times of heavy agricultural use.

I think RDNO could deal with these events at an operational level by using a different, unaffected source and maybe drawing down the potable water stored in existing reservoirs.

In other words, turn off the Duteau water available to domestic users until the event is over and the turbidity levels are again acceptable.  If you do not actually use turbid water for drinking water then you are not technically violating IHA demands.  This should allow RDNO at least a decade to develop a much more cost effective master water plan, and there’s no harm in asking IHA for a variance either.

I know, I know – fire flows, etc. would be affected, but these are just excuses. Also note that treatment plants in a box are already available. A number of world-class companies are making some very good products and a lot of research is ongoing to make treatment more environmentally friendly. Please seriously consider other options and vote no in the upcoming referendum.  IHA is not going to risk a public relations nightmare by immediately forcing you to spend the money anyway.

Don’t be swayed by RDNO scare tactics – your water is already safe. I was raised in Vernon and my siblings and 85-year-old mother still reside there. They tell me Vernon is becoming a very expensive place to live.


Dana Mills



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