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Sudden increase in turbidity triggers early boil notice

Image Credit: South East Kelowna Irrigation District
April 04, 2013 - 9:17 PM

By Julie Whittet

An earlier than usual snow melt means some Kelowna residents will find something a little extra in their drinking water. This morning the South East Kelowna Irrigation District issued a boil notice to its residents as a precautionary safety measure. Hydraulic Creek is rising with melt water and is washing debris downstream, causing turbidity.

Toby Pike, general manager for the District, says, “those particles in the water can compromise the effectiveness of our disinfection system.” He says the main safety concern is when turbidity shields bacteria and protozoa from the chlorine used to disinfect the water.

Hydraulic Creek is the main water source for communities in South East Kelowna

While Pike says he's never seen a case of waterborne illness caused by the turbidity, “that doesn't mean there's any less risk - it could happen tomorrow.”

“It only takes one cow, or moose or somebody's dog,” Pike says, and bacteria could be released into the water with the potential to cause gastro-intestinal illness in drinkers. But he says there's typically less human activity in the mountains this time of year, and pathogens will be lower.

Weather patterns over the coming weeks will continue to determine the water quality. Pike expects the turbidity in Hydraulic Creek to continue for another two to four weeks.

“We usually issue a notice each year during spring, but everything is just melting a little earlier than we're used to,” he says. The good news is, “it's usually worse at the beginning.” Pike says other water utilities in the valley are also likely to issue boil notices in the coming months.

Brennan Clarke of the B.C. River Forecast Centre says residents throughout Kelowna can expect to see more snow melt in May.

“Normally the first week of May is of greater interest to the public, if there's going to be anything critical happening.”

To contact the reporter for this story, email Julie Whittet at or call (250)718-0428.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013
InfoTel News Ltd

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