Boil water warnings so common, West Kelowna invites users to throw darts - at its logo | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Boil water warnings so common, West Kelowna invites users to throw darts - at its logo

Rose Valley reservoir in West Kelowna.
Image Credit: District of West Kelowna

Water quality advisories are so frequent for a West Kelowna water system that public notices have taken on a whimsical tone.

“Step one, print City of West Kelowna logo; step two, post logo on dart board... we assume you know the rest!” states the City’s latest notice on its Facebook page, issued last Friday, Jan. 24. 

“As we issue another Water Quality Advisory for the Lakeview System - until further notice - please be kind - our logo can take the darts, our staff cannot. Our crews are out tonight trying to determine the cause of high turbidity readings at several of our stations. Thanks team - stay safe out there in the cold and dark. Customers - we're sorry - we'll say it as often as we must - we truly are."

That notice was triggered by crews doing maintenance on the system, which caused turbidity levels to rise high enough to issue the warning, Allen Fillion, the City’s director of engineering and public works, told

The problem was solved quickly but it takes a few days to get water tests back so Interior Health can issue the all clear signal. Fillion expected that to happen today, Jan. 28.

Last summer and fall there were notices issued almost monthly advising of turbidity in the water system.

An internet posting says it was originally the Lakeview Heights Irrigation District and was set up in 1951 to provide domestic and farm water.

It’s now called the Lakeview System and supplies 4,300 homes with more than 10,000 residents.

An aged treatment plant makes it hard to keep up with ever more stringent drinking water standards.

But climate change has played a role as algae growths are far more common in the Rose Valley reservoir than ever before, Fillion said. The algae can cause turbidity warnings because it can’t be filtered out completely when it’s in bloom.

The City’s consultant told Fillion that the low elevation and relative shallowness of the reservoir means the algae grows more readily there as the summers get warmer. Upper elevation lakes are not so easily affected and water users drawing from Okanagan Lake have deep enough intakes that they are not affected, he said.

The City has aeriated the water in past winters but stopped when it got too cold out of fear the equipment would freeze. Last year, they kept it operating and there were fewer problems with algae so they’re trying that again this winter.

Climate change has also impacted Bear Creek, which feeds the reservoir. It now carries more material during storm events. The treatment plant does not filter it all out so sediment can build up in water pipes and cause turbidity issues if it’s disturbed.

Both those problems should be cleared up when the new treatment plant is built. That project was priced at about $50 million when it was first proposed and grants were applied for a couple of years ago. It was delayed because the City could not get land from the province so had to buy another site, which forced some redesign.

It’s expected to go to tender in the next few days with the hope of the plant operating by the summer of 2022, Fillion said.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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