Water quality

Resident questions using Okanagan Lake as a water source for Greater Vernon

I was curious to read on the front page of your Jan. 25 edition about the Greater Vernon water plan and that director Gyula Kiss is in favour of using Okanagan Lake as a domestic water source.

Perhaps Mr. Kiss has forgotten that in March last year, the Steele Springs Waterworks District was handed a do not drink advisory from Interior Health because the nitrate level in our water exceeded the 10-ppm maximum allowable in the Canadian drinking water guidelines.

That ban is still in effect, and our nitrate levels are still high. In other words, nothing much has changed in the last year.

Steele Springs water is derived from aquifer 103 in the Hullcar Valley, the most northerly source of the entire Okanagan Valley waterway. Steele Springs takes about 15 per cent of the water coming out of a collection of small springs, and the rest goes down Steele Springs Creek into Deep Creek.  That source runs into Otter Lake and is then fed into Okanagan Lake.

Deep Creek has measurable levels of nitrates at this time, and if nothing is done about the source of the nitrates, the problem will only get worse.

To be sure, the nitrates from aquifer 103 are diluted as they travel down the valley. But the nitrates are dissolved in the water, and don’t settle out. In lake water, they promote plant growth, which depletes the oxygen level in the water, killing fish and other aquatic life.

And it is highly unlikely Deep Creek is the only source of nitrates or other pollution going into Okanagan Lake, while governments at all levels ignore the problem.

So unless governments at all levels take some action against anyone contaminating our precious water sources, the suggestion of Mr. Kiss would be a temporary drinking water source at best. And then where do you turn?

If no one is protecting our drinking water, who is protecting yours? It is time to start asking some tough questions, and demanding some action.


Al Price