Mysterious case of missing Mission Creek water in Kelowna may be solved | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Mysterious case of missing Mission Creek water in Kelowna may be solved

Mission Creek in July 2016.
August 14, 2021 - 11:30 AM

For awhile this summer it looked like some nefarious criminal was sneaking massive amounts of water out of an already low-flowing Mission Creek.

The creek is the largest single source of water for Okanagan Lake as it runs through Kelowna.

“There are some withdrawals that are not (Black Mountain Irrigation District),” Bob Harasko, the irrigation district’s general manager told iNFOnews.ca earlier this week. “We’re not sure where they are."

READ MORE: Okanagan drought level rises again; more water restrictions coming

His water intake on Mission Creek is in the Joe Rich area east of Kelowna and supplies much of the water to his more than 28,000 customers, mostly in the Rutland area of the city.

Flows at his intake are stable but, every two or three days, the volume of water flowing through the province’s recording device at Ziprick Road drops considerably – about enough to fill two Olympic-sized swimming pools like the one at the city’s H2O Centre every time it happens.

“We’re looking for it just like the province,” Harasko said. “It’s not a very long period of time but it’s a big flow and it’s an acute flow and it maybe goes on for an hour-and-a-half or two hours and somebody takes this big block of water. They (province) are looking for it right now but it happens between midnight and 2 a.m. It’s hard to find in the dark.”

The province confirmed it was an issue.

“It appears that there could be some unexpected usage/diversion throughout the evening, however, we have not figured out where the usage/diversion is,” the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development said in an email Wednesday. “Compliance and enforcement is currently looking into a couple a possibilities and, as the matter is being investigated, we cannot comment any further at this time.”

By yesterday, Aug. 13, the mystery seems to have been solved.

“I’ve watched the creek for a lot of years and there are only so many places that would use that amount of water that was being drawn off,” Harasko said. “The Ministry, and the organization that we think is doing it, they’re sorting it out.”

It appears there is a licenced system on the creek that is now being run by new people.

“I don’t think it was anything evil,” Harasko said. “I just think it is a lack of information. The person who has the licence isn’t aware of the rules.”

As far as he’s concerned, it’s best if the new operator simply learns how to run the system properly.

Black Mountain Irrigation District lets enough water out of its upper elevation reservoirs throughout the summer to maintain enough water in Mission Creek to not only supply its customers but to also provide enough water for the young trout growing in the Creek.

While the Okanagan is in a drought this summer, Harasko believes his reservoirs have enough capacity to maintain those flows, even if that means people camping and fishing on those upper elevation lakes have to hike a little further to get down to the lake water this summer.


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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